Record-breaking Beloit College runner with cerebral palsy eyes 2024 Paralympics
'Its strange, to be honest,' Aaron Holzmueller said, of his newfound notoriety
BELOIT, Wis.– From Aaron Rodgers to Christian Yelich to the ‘Greek Freak,’ Wisconsin has no shortage of incredible athletes. But here’s one you might not have heard of: Aaron Holzmueller.
The Beloit College athlete grew up in the north suburbs of Chicago and would often see his dad and brother run. He thought, “Hey, I can do that too.” But he faced a challenge they didn’t.
Aaron has cerebral palsy and epilepsy: two neurological disorders that cause uncontrollable, jerking body movements and make it hard for people to control their arms and legs… let alone run. Determined, Aaron found a way around that.
“When I’m running, I have to move my arms across my body more to stay balanced,” he explained. “There are different types of cerebral palsy. Some are more mild, some are more severe. I’m kind of in the middle.”
MORE: 11 things to know about cerebral palsy
Fast forward 20 years, and Aaron is not only running and performing at the college level: he’s winning and breaking records.
His coach, Brian Bliese, calls Aaron truly unique.
“It’s fun to be around him,” Bliese said. “He’s a challenge, but in the best way. He keeps me young, so to speak.”
And Bliese would know.
Coach B has worked with thousands of college athletes during his 40+ year career, including six All-Americans in the last four years. Aaron trains the same way they do, and it shows. In May, he broke the USA Adaptive Track & Field national record for his age group’s 800m distance by more than one minute, with a time of 2:47.95.
“He’s gotten many standing ovations,” Bliese bragged. “He is that drive to people. You can find that work ethic. You can find that passion. You can make anything happen.”
“I just try and improve every race,” Aaron humbly interjected.
Heading into his final season at Beloit, Aaron’s sights are now set on a new goal: Paris 2024. Unlike the Olympics, the Paralympic games don’t include each event for every disability classification, so Aaron doesn’t yet know if his specialties will be selected for the 2024 games. The 800m was not included in Tokyo, but is on a short watch list for Paris, which indicates it could be reinstated.
“The first thing is making sure they’re included,” he said. “And then we’ll go from there.”
In the meantime, Aaron is enjoying his final year at Beloit College, where he is majoring in Sociology.
MORE: Holzmueller adds another national record to list of accolades
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