Jason Dunkerley and Josh Karanja are the ultimate teammates. They set goals as a team and execute their training as a team. They are motivated by one another and are invested in their mutual success. While this may seem like a generic, albeit idealistic description of many teammates, Jason and Josh share a camaraderie that is anything but ordinary. Their partnership requires a degree of synchronicity that is unparalleled in any other sporting event because Josh is, most literally, Jason’s eyes.
Jason Dunkerely grew up in a household where sports were emphasized. “My parents always encouraged my brothers (who were also blind) and me to be active when we were growing up. We loved all kinds of sports,” comments Jason. By the time he reached high school, he had discovered track as a focused passion. Now at the age of 35, Jason acknowledges the many coaches who have helped him reach his lofty athletic pursuits: Doug Whistance, Dave Scott-Thomas, Ray Elrick and current coach Ian Clark. “Each of these coaches has profoundly impacted me and helped to shape my understanding of track - what it takes to succeed, and my own self-awareness and idea of what is possible,” he notes. Another individual who has undoubtedly helped Jason reach his potential is Josh Karanja.
Josh began running competitively in high school under the tutelage of Ian Clark. He attended Eastern Michigan University on an athletic scholarship and became an All-American in the steeplechase. While doing graduate work in Michigan, Josh received a call from his old coach: “I got a phone call from Ian Clark asking if I would like to guide. I tried it and Jay and I seemed to work well so as they say the rest is history.” History indeed: the dynamic duo raced the T11 class 1500m and 5000m at the London Paralympic Games winning bronze and silver medals respectively.
This success is a manifestation of their commitment to one another. “In our races, I want to do well and meet our objectives for Josh too, because he’s as committed and motivated to succeed as I am,” comments Jason. Josh echoes this sentiment: “Being a guide runner is a great opportunity to help someone achieve his or her goals but for me it is fun, enjoyable and allows me to keep training and push Jay to the best of his ability.”
Jason recalls his early introduction to athletics and credits his support system for being hugely influential in his development. “I can’t understate the importance of having positive people around you to help you believe in yourself and see past the limitations you might imagine.” Both athletes have found their years in the sport of para-athletics highly rewarding. Jason offers advice to those thinking of joining the sport: “I would encourage anyone to jump in with both feet. The impact of sport - from a health and personal development perspective - is priceless, whether or not people go on to compete at a high level.” Jason Dunkerley and Josh Karanja epitomize what can be accomplished through hard work, dedication and a partnership rooted in trust.