Most mornings you can find Todd Vogt on the water when the rest of us are still sleeping. Todd, who is an active member of our Program Advisory Committee, is living with young onset Parkinson’s disease. But that isn’t stopping this 47 year old from competing at the highest levels of rowing.
We first shared Todd’s story in November 2019 with A Stroke of Genius, where we chronicled his journey to the U.S. World Rowing Championships after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. (You may also remember Todd from the beginning rowing workout that he held for us online last summer. Check it out here!)
We recently caught up with Todd to talk about his latest adventure, training for a chance to represent the US at the 2020 Paralympics Games in Tokyo.
Elite Training to Qualify
Postponing the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games gave Todd a couple of opportunities. First, he had another year to train to hopefully make the Paralympics rowing team. “The postponement only helped me because I had nothing else to do but train. Because of Covid stay-at-home restrictions, I used my at-home garage gym and got in my one-person boat on the water with my coach like every day”, said Todd.
He can also can now proudly say he’s a rowing world record holder. Todd uses a Concept 2 rowing machine at home, and they have worldwide leaderboards for his age and Paralympic categories. He confidently broke three world records during his intensive at-home training.
With all of Todd’s dedication and hard work, he was officially invited to tryout for the Paralympic team. Selection camp started June 1, 2021. Todd said it was the hardest training he’s ever done with intense 1000-meter rowing intervals on the water lasting about 4 minutes per interval. Three men and five women did this every other day for three weeks trying to find the fastest combination.
In the end only two men and two women would make the team. Though Todd wasn’t selected, he’s proud of how hard he trained and excited for his teammates to compete. “Hats off to my teammates that made the boat. They are all great rowers and good people. I am truly happy for them and am looking forward to seeing them kick some butt in Tokyo,” Todd said.
Todd is setting his sights for the next Paralympic games in Paris in 2024.
For now, he’s back home in Portland, Ore. recharging and giving his body some time to recover. He said his Parkinson’s symptoms have progressed just a tad and hopes his body can hold up for another three years to compete in Paris. “I’m living out my sports dreams, living with Parkinson’s. It was a forced change, but for the best,” Todd said.