Sports

Chiropractor Jim Kurtz bound for China and Paralympics

Federal Way resident Jim Kurtz doesn’t run the 100 meters or swim the butterfly. He can’t pole vault 19-feet or clean-and-jerk 400 pounds.

But Kurtz is officially an Olympian.

The chiropractor, who works at Northwest Sports Rehab in Federal Way, leaves for Beijing in three weeks for the 2008 Paralympic Games. Kurtz will spend five weeks as Team USA’s chiropractor inside the athlete’s village.

The Paralympic Games, which will be held at the same facilities in China as the regular Olympics, are a multi-sport event for athletes with physical, mental and sensorial disabilities.

“I’m very excited,” Kurtz said. “I have never been to China.”

Kurtz’s foray into working with Olympic-calibur athletes started four years ago when he accepted an internship with the United States sports medicine group. Kurtz worked at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He returned once a year for the last four years and worked with athletes from gymnastics, volleyball, weight lifting, triathlon, cycling, tae kwon do, judo and modern pentathlon.

“There is a lot of jumping through hoops to get to the next level,” Kurtz said. “I got evaluated and I got sent to several events, like the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and the National Track and Field Meet. They said that they might call me back or that I might never get called back. It’s sort of the medical version of the Olympics.”

Kurtz’s goal was to work on athletes in the regular Olympic Games until the US Olympic Committee sent his to the Pan-American Paralympics in Brazil.

“It was a lot of fun,” Kurtz said. “I knew I had found my home. It’s so refreshing to be around people who have less than you. They are so full of life and don’t have the egos.”

And Kurtz knows all about athletes with big egos. During his time as a sports chiropractor he has worked on the professional rodeo circuit, at the United States Track and Field Championships, with several Seattle Seahawks, at the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii and recently quit a gig he had traveling around the country with the PGA Tour.

“They are so guarded because somebody is always wanting something from them,” Kurtz said. “(The paralympians) are competing for the sheer joy of it. They are not going after huge endorsement contracts.”

The treatment Kurtz will be dealing with in China includes things like muscle pulls, joint alignment problems, knee, ankle, neck and shoulder injuries.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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