USA men’s goalball athlete Tyler Merren talks about the win over Finland on July 3, 2019,
By: Bryan Boggiano
A man with Coral Springs ties will represent the U.S.A. in the Tokyo Paralympics.
Tyler Merren will be one of 12 athletes to represent the United States in goalball the United States Association of Blind Athletes announced on June 9.
Merren’s upcoming Paralympic visit will be his fourth. He participated in the Beijing games, won a bronze medal in Athens, and was part of the silver-winning goalball team in Rio de Janeiro. After the latter, he received the key to Coral Springs.
In 2019, Coral Springs Talk wrote about Merren and his journey as a legally blind Paralympic athlete. In addition to his athletic ventures, Merren founded his own company, Revision Training LLC. His work also includes speaking events and organization workshops.
Merren said that he is developing a fitness program for visually impaired people.
In late 2019, Merren and his family moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana. That is the location of Turnstone Center, a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site, which hosts the USA Goalball Resident Athlete Training Program.
Merren participates in the residency program and follows a rigorous routine to prepare. This includes training for 2 to 3 hours a day by warming up, stretching, strength training, defense, offense practice, and scrimmages.
While his move and training got off to a good start, everything came to a halt in March 2020 when the COVID pandemic began. His fitness facility closed for about six weeks. In that time, his teammates and he trained remotely.
While the pandemic posed obstacles for the team, Merren said that the experience made them better.
“Early on, we determined that this would make us stronger as a team,” he said.
When his facility reopened, training picked up, and they focused more on strength training and picked up where they left off. Since the pandemic, the U.S. men’s team defeated Lithuania in the Trakai Tournament.
At 37, Merren is one of the oldest people on the team, which comes with obstacles. While he needs more recovery time than when he was younger, he is still one of the team’s top players. He attributes his longevity to his training and diet. He relies primarily on plant-based foods, though he sometimes will eat leaner meat.
“It’s essential to feed myself well, and I think it’s made a big difference,” he said. “I feel very good with my training now.”
When he is not training for the Paralympics, Merren is spending time with his family. Merren and his wife, Leanne, have been married for 19 years. He has a stepson and three daughters. Merren said that they are his biggest supporters. His wife, he said, will watch his games at 3 or 4 a.m. from the other side of the world.
After the games, Merren does not know what the future holds, but he knows that he is thankful for all of the support he has received.
“My family, my team, my coaches, my governing body, and Turnstone Center have always been there for me,” he said. “I’m really grateful for all of their support.”
The Summer Paralympics will begin on Aug. 25 and end on Sept. 6.
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- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan plans to pursue geosciences at Florida International University for his master’s. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.