Pima employee rolling to Rio


wPg01-Kyle Mutz1Kyle Mutz wants to push his way to the top.

Mutz, a program specialist at the Disabled Student Resources office at Desert Vista Campus, is also one of the fastest wheelchair athletes in the country.

He narrowly missed qualifying for the Paralympic Games twice before, but doesn’t plan on having it happen a third time when the games take place in Rio de Janeiro.

“I’m going for 2016 in Rio,” the former 100-meter national champion said. “To win at the Paralympic level, that’s the ultimate goal. My goal is to break the world record.”

Long before he began to pursue athletic glory, Mutz mastered the use of his wheelchair. He was born with a rare condition called arthrogryposis, which left him without certain muscles in his legs.

“They say it’s from a lack of activity in the womb,” he said. “Like I didn’t move around enough or something like that. Which is pretty funny, because now I’m one of the most active people in my family.”

Mutz, 31, could probably qualify as one of the most active people in the country. He does more by 7 a.m. than many people do in a year.

“I’ll get up at 5, then go train until about 7,” said Mutz, who started racing in 1994.

The Texas native’s morning regimen usually consists of doing 10 to 12 miles of roadwork in his “racing chair.” He and his workout partners also mix in lots of inclines to ramp up the challenge.

“On Starr Pass, there’s a really steep hill where we do those. Pushing up that’s a real workout,” he said.

When Mutz is finished, he hops in his SUV — to get dressed for work.

“A lot of the places where we train, there’s nowhere to change, so we just do it in the car,” he said, laughing. “You just have to make sure your stuff is ironed for work.”

Making things smoother for his students at Desert Vista is another big part of Mutz’s day.

wPg05-Kyle Mutz2“We help disabled students who are looking for accommodations to have access to the programs and courses we offer,” he said.

“We want to make sure we can level that playing field for them, because a lot of times, those students have to work three times harder than other students just to keep up.”

Mutz is proud to be a source of inspiration to his students.

“I hope that by seeing someone like me doing what I’m doing, they can say, ‘Hey, he’s just like me. Those opportunities are out there, and I can have that chance.’”

After he gets off work, Mutz puts in the second half of his daily workout routine, this time in the gym. He works on his core, lifts weights or boxes for about an hour and a half.

The aspiring record-holder, who says weight training has taken him “to the next level,” can bench-press 130 pounds.

“Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot, but I weigh 95 pounds,” he said. “The ratio of weight lifted to my body weight is pretty good.”

Something else Mutz got to lift was the gold medal he won at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio.

“To have your name called and they say ‘United States of America,’ it’s pretty cool,” he said. “And hearing the national anthem … I can’t describe the feeling.

“The only thing I think would be better is winning at the Paralympics.”

Ascending the podium in the city where he achieved one of his biggest triumphs would make it all the sweeter.

“Being there the first time was amazing. It’s where I had one of my best moments as an athlete,” he said. “To do it there again, that would just be incredible.”

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