TEMPE, Ariz. — Paralympic athlete Kaitlyn Verfuerth has her sights set on Tokyo waters, being a part of Team USA and the Paralympic podium.
"I am ready and my times are right there, so we have no idea what to expect but I'm excited," Verfuerth said.
Verfuerth trains at Tempe Town Lake, where she focuses on her movements in the water and improving her race times.
"Every time I put my blade in the water I think about how I want to make contact with the water," she said. "I want to feel what we call the catch when you put the blade in the water and pull back."
Verfuerth has competed in three prior Paralympic games in wheelchair tennis. Now she's making her debut in the 200m para-canoe of the 2020 games.
"I just hope to finish with the pack," she said. "I am brand new to this sport. I've only been paddling about two years."
Verfuerth leaves for Tokyo on Wednesday. She said with COVID, she's taking a lot of extra steps this time.
"I already have a lot of anxiety, because 96 hours before I leave I have to take my first COVID test," she said. "I feel fine, I feel great. But you have to swab your nose, you have to take a picture of yourself with a swab in your nose."
But even with the added pandemic stresses, Verfuerth said she's never let anything else stop her before, including the childhood injury which paralyzed her from the waist down.
And she doesn't plan to stop now, with Team USA in Tokyo.
"I feel like there's something deep inside me that makes me want to go harder and work harder because I'm representing the USA and that's pretty awesome," she said. "I get goosebumps when I think about putting on that jersey and representing team USA."
You can watch Kaitlyn compete only on 12 News the first week of September.