KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – In just a few months, a Tri-Cities native will race to make the U.S. Paralympic track team.
Blake Leeper won silver and bronze medals in the 2012 Paralympic games. Four years and a lot of training later, he’s a strong favorite to make the U.S. team this summer.
“I want that individual gold, not only for myself. I want to do it for my country,” Leeper told News Channel 11’s Josh Smith. “I want to do it for my hometown of Kingsport.”
As staggering as that is – a man born with no legs below his knees racing for Olympic gold – no one who knows Blake Leeper is that surprised.
Since he was a child, he’s placed himself in the heart of competitive sports alongside people who don’t need prosthetics to walk.
“It’s what mom and dad instilled in me at a young age – never take no for an answer,” Blake said.
Leeper played sports at Dobyns-Bennett High School until he graduated in 2009. But he didn’t run his first competitive race until 5 years ago when he discovered that, with prosthetic blades, he could do more than run. He could fly.
“That’s awesome that we’re in the day and age when the guy with no legs can be one of the fastest men alive,” Leeper said.
With success in 2012 propelling him to prominence, Leeper is now a growing sports star. He’s a spokesman for companies like Nike, Oakley, Wheaties, Fathead, and Kingsport-based Eastman Chemical.
But Blake Leeper has another goal, and it’s likely to stir some controversy.
He’s preparing for the fact that goal could lead to criticism from other athletes within the Olympic community.
“I expect some will claim I have the unfair advantage,” Leeper said, holding back a laugh. “The guy with no legs is cheating.”
Hear what Blake Leeper is planning in a special report Tuesday at 6pm on News Channel 11.
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