Monday, February 3, 2014

SOCHI-Da! An update and thank you

Being named to represent the United States in the Paralympics is something I strived for the first time I decided to start training like an Olympic athlete.

I remember it was just a few weeks after the amputation of my dominant arm that I was lucky enough to talk to Bryan Boyer (of all places at the Tucson VA) after a check up following my amputation, and he mentioned that there was an opportunity to find rehab doing Biathlon..  Biathlon? Why not give it a chance I said..  Called Marc Mast at the Wood River Ability Program in Ketchum Idaho, packed my bags, and it was on.

Tried it, loved it, and now look at me, in the midst of my second season and already have achieved this level. I am lucky indeed and sometimes I beat myself up for the stupid rookie mistakes I make but when I step back and look at the magnitude of it all, I should be incredibly proud.

I am proud! In this last year I have achieved and experienced things that there's no way I would have done if it wasn't for skiing. First and foremost, I have learned to live and compete with a disability that has allowed me to appreciate life and find what my character is made of, and I have found out that my soul still burns and I love it.

I have also gotten the chance to be a part of an incredible team and community when I came to Maine to start training..  Will Sweetser, Sarah Dominick, Seth Hubbard, and Amber Dodge, my coaches and now friends, have taught me how to train for competitive cross country skiing and biathlon and not only that but to enjoy skiing and be part of something greater, such as being a role model and an inspiration to kids and adults alike, and for that I feel honored and content.

Being a member of MWSC has allowed me to travel to Europe, and Canada and train with athletes such as Kris Freeman, Noah Hoffman, Welly Ramsey, Brandy Stewart, Raleigh Goessling, Katrina Howe, and Sam Tarling, which I learned something from each one of them and I feel extremely thankful to have had the pleasure of skiing with them all.

Two or three workouts each day, with shooting practice in between, healthy mind and body activities, and a whole lot of pain..  That is the price to pay but I could not have done it if it was not for Paul Fitzgerald, and Jeff Steffen at Team Semper Fi..  Those guys are awesome and they gave me the tools to make a run for it and run I will.

When the going went from tough to just painfully hard and especially on those hot summer Maine days, I knew I could always count on my sweet and really kick ass skier herself, my girlfriend Lindsey Hall.  Listening to her every night was the recovery I always needed to go on, and I am forever thankful for her and her family that opened up the doors to their house in order for me to train and afford the training.

Paralympics, parallel to the Olympics..  Not below or above but in the same spectrum of hard work and dedication..  I do not claim to be anywhere in the realm of Olympians and their path to glory just as Olympians can not claim the path to mine..  I am a Paralympian, I might look different, and I might not be as fast as my fellow able-bodied skiers and marksmen, but I have every single intention to being successful at my craft as they are.. John Farra, Rob Rosser, James Upham, Eileen carey, and Bethann Chamberlain, thanks for seeing that in me.

Sochi approaches, and I must say I am extremely excited and nervous..  My Mother Rosa, my two sisters, Edna, and Tania, and Lindsey will be watching from the stands as I achieve greatness..  I am extremely lucky to have a family that would support me this way, and to them and in the name of my true father Mariano which he was always the inspiration that drove my family forward before me, and that I have lost this year to a terrible illness, I dedicate this year's effort and everything that will flourish out of it.. 

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Omar! It was cool to find your blog. We're really happy that you've found something that makes you so happy. You deserve it. Hope Sochi was a blast!

    My number is the same if you ever feel like calling.

    Rick and Terri