Alumnus Personifies Paralympic Spirit

by Jay London on August 29, 2012

in Alumni Life, Athletics, Events, In the News

Ron Harvey '93 (Photo via US Rowing)

In 2001, less than two years after competing in the lightweight doubles at the 2000 Olympic Trials, former MIT rower Ron Harvey ’93 was in a bicycle accident. He suffered broken ribs and a broken back, and was paralyzed from the waist down. Yet three months later, he resumed competitive rowing and hasn’t stopped.

On Friday, August 31, Harvey will compete in the men’s adaptive single sculls event at the 2012 Paralympics. He took fifth place in the same event at the 2008 Games—the first year rowing was included in the Paralympics.

Harvey explained his approach towards recovery in the October 22, 2011 edition of The Boston Globe.

Harvey’s engineering training and his “methodical mentality” helped him make the transition. “It’s a problem to overcome,” he said. “That becomes the focus. How am I going to get over this? Not, what happened to me?”

Paralympic rowing has three classifications of athletes, which indicates each rower’s physical ability. Harvey is classified as an “AS,” which means he only uses his arms and shoulders to accelerate the boat through the 1,000 meter course. His biggest obstacle will be Britain’s Tom Aggar, the 2008 gold medal winner and four-time world champion.

Harvey is part of the California Adaptive Rowing Program at the Long Beach Rowing Association. A member of the US Rowing National Team since 2004, he began his career with MIT’s lightweight varsity in the early ’90s. He is a three-time medalist at the FISA World Championships and took first place in the adaptive single sculls at the 2012 National Selection Regatta.

Outside of rowing, Harvey is an engineer at Parker Hannifin Corp. in Irvine, Calif., where he performs stress analysis on flight control systems. He received a master’s degree from Stanford in 1994 and an MBA from UCLA in 2004. An avid handcycler, he finished second in the handcycle category at the 2010 Boston Marathon.

Given the success of our growing list of MIT alumni who have competed in the Olympics, we are hoping to start a list of alumni who have competed in the Paralympics. Do you know of any past, present, or future Paralympians? Drop us a note on Facebook or leave a comment below.

Update: Harvey advanced to the finals of men’s single sculls (placing third in his heat), and eventually finished eighth overall.

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