Megan Blunk can relate to the quarantine fast-food eating splurge and relaxing of fitness routines that many have done repeatedly while coping with the global coronavirus pandemic.
The basketball Paralympian indulged in the endless free McDonald’s at the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil. Blunk, a native of Gig Harbor, helped Team USA win a gold medal in Rio.
“(It’s) my favorite memory,” Blunk said via email to The Seattle Times. “I was eating at the athlete’s village the free McDonald’s and not feeling guilty whatsoever from that day until we left.”
Blunk would like to help people either return to or kick-start a fitness routine even when constrained with social distancing and closed gyms. She’s helping the Angel City Games go viral with that goal, heading a wheelchair basketball clinic Monday.
Angel City Games started in 2015 as an adaptive sports festival that, pre-COVID-19, offered in-person clinics, competitions and celebrity events for people of all ages with a physical disability or mobility impairment.
Due to the pandemic, about 450 participants were instead sent an athlete equipment kit tailored to one of the event’s nine sports, including workout gear. Blunk and four-time Paralympian Matt Scott will go through an hour-long, interactive, online session demonstrating skills and exercises that whether quarantining indoors or social distancing outside, with or without equipment, anyone can do.
“Even during the pandemic, it’s important that we continue to support adaptive athletes and provide them with the right tools to achieve future success,” Blunk wrote via email to The Seattle Times. “The challenges I have faced since quarantine had more to do with personal insecurities pertaining to relationships. …Quarantine has been a huge blessing for me in my life. I have never slowed down this much in my entire life.”
While Scott was diagnosed with spina bifida at birth and started playing basketball in 1998, Blunk broke 18 bones and was paralyzed from the waist down after being the passenger in a motorcycle accident in 2008 — a month before her graduation from Peninsula High.
As a youth, there was hardly a sport or activity Blunk hadn’t tried. She was a five-sport athlete for the Seahawks and started playing wheelchair basketball at age 19. About two years later, Blunk earned a scholarship to play for the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
“For the first year I felt like no one understood me and the world didn’t care to include me,” Blunk wrote in the email. “But I learned to hold my head up through it all and it has made me stronger, showed me the good that exists in more people than we even know, and I learned to be appreciative for all that I have and never take those things for granted.”
Blunk now lives in San Diego and hasn’t competed since March due to the shutdown. She does workouts crafted by her USA strength and conditioning coach, but time is filled with gardening, refurbishing wood, carrying bricks and digging up rocks.
Like many, Blunk is eager to get back on the court with her team again. The virtual clinic is a welcome event to get close to the game.
“I have definitely had to find ways to channel my energy as my mind tries to take me another direction,” Blunk wrote. “I look forward to seeing their excited faces as they use this new equipment, and the amazing things they accomplish long after my session.”