Laurens Molina is a Tico athlete currently training for the upcoming XIV Paralympic Games in London. At the recent XVII Los Angeles Marathon, Mr. Molina took the ninth place in a race that has become very competitive among wheelchair-bound athletes.
The first athlete to cross the finish line in Los Angeles was Krige Schabort from Capetown, South Africa. Like Mr. Molina, Mr. Schabort is a wheelchair racer. The South Africa native crossed the finish line before all other athletes. The stopwatch reading for Mr. Schabort was 1:39:53, a blindingly fast pace of 3:48 per mile.
The race time of the 33-year old Tico was also impressive, 2:02:19. He finished the race about 10 minutes faster than elite marathon athlete Simon Njoroge from Kenya, who came in at 2:12:12. Njoroge also lost a $100,000 challenge to a Fatuma Sado, a 20-year old female runner from Ethiopia who was given a 17:31 advantage and finished ahead of Njoroge on the stopwatch by 4 minutes. Both Mr. Njoroge and Ms. Sado took home $25,000 and a brand-new Honda CR-V, but Ms. Sado took an extra $100,000 since her male challenger was not able to catch up to her race time.
In the last few years, wheelchair athletes have gotten faster and faster than their non-wheelchair bound counterparts. Their race purses, however, are paltry in comparison. Mr. Schabort crossed the finish line long before all other racers and only took home $2,500.
About Laurens Molina
Mr. Molina is an accomplished athlete who proudly represents Costa Rica in many athletic events. According to his profile at Hanger Inc., a manufacturer of advanced prosthetics, Mr. Molina “was born without any bones in his legs from the knees down. When he was a year and a half old, both of his lower extremities were amputated at the knees. He was fit with his first pair of prosthetic legs when he was two years old.” He has participated in wheelchair athletic competitions and sports since the age of 15, but after competing in the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sidney, Mr. Molina became interested in new prosthetic legs.
Mr. Molina was no stranger to prosthetic legs. He had worn them as a child, but they were heavy devices that drew the mocking laughs and mean gestures of inconsiderate schoolmates in Junior High School. The young Mr. Molina opted for a wheelchair instead. Thanks to the advances in lightweight prosthetic technology by companies such as Hanger, Inc., Mr. Molina now walks again with a normal gait. Although he continues to represent Costa Rica in wheelchair athletic competitions, Mr. Molina retired his old competition wheelchair and donated it to a young paralyzed girl.