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Duckworth Leading U.S. Paralympic Delegation

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U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team athletes, Greg Shaw(L), and Declan Farmer (R) fight for the puck during a face-off drill. during practice at the Sertich Ice Arena  on February 26, 2014 in Colorado Springs. The team is practicing at the Sertich Ice Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado for two days prior to their departure for Sochi, Russia to defend their 2010 Paralympic gold medal at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.(Photo by Jason Connolly/Getty Images)

U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team athletes, Greg Shaw(L), and Declan Farmer (R) fight for the puck during a face-off drill. during practice at the Sertich Ice Arena on February 26, 2014 in Colorado Springs. The team is practicing at the Sertich Ice Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado for two days prior to their departure for Sochi, Russia to defend their 2010 Paralympic gold medal at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.(Photo by Jason Connolly/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth will be heading to Russia next week, along with Americans who are competing in the Paralympic Games in Sochi.

“I am very excited to be leading the U.S. delegation to the Paralympics. What happens is the Paralympics always takes place in the same location as the Olympic Games, but just two weeks later,” she said.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports Duckworth, one of only two members of Congress to use a wheelchair, said she’s even prouder of the athletes.

“This is real athletic competition. These folks will be competing in many of the same sports as the Olympians, just on modified equipment,” she said. “For example, downhill skiing, alpine skiing, they get to pretty high speeds. There is sled hockey, which is just as much a physical sport as ice hockey is.”

Sled hockey was invented in the 1960s as a way to allow disabled athletes to play ice hockey, using small sleds instead of ice skates. Most of the same rules of ice hockey apply in sled hockey.

Duckworth, a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot who lost her legs in action in Iraq, said some of the athletes at the 2014 Paralympics will be fellow wounded warriors.

“It shows people … not just here at home, but all around the world the very fulfilling lives that people with disabilities can lead, and that they can be athletes, and they can be very, very competitive.

The congresswoman said she’s glad the Paralympics have been getting more media attention in recent years, and that’s inspiring for all concerned.

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