14-Year Old Amputee Competing in 2024 Paralympics Fights BulliesBy Staff Reporter, UniversityHerald Reporter
Bullying is becoming a main concern in campuses and to defy the odds is really a feat that one can only overcome through determination, personal achievements and values education.
A 14-year-old boy from Fairfield, Ohio has made headlines last week with his outstanding achievement in martial arts, particularly in Taekwondo. This has made him popular in school and apparently it kicked the bullies out of his life.
Austin Osner is no normal kid. He is an amputee and was born with only his left arm due to Amniotic Band Syndrome. But the boy did not let his life without a limb disable him from doing what he can do especially in the field of martial arts.
The boy with one arm is set to represent Team USA in the coming Paralympics Games, and he is part of the Peak Performance International Taekwondo Team. He will be training in Michigan, Ohio, and in Florida throughout the year.
Aside from kicking butts, he is a straight-A student at the Ohio Virtual Academy, an online public school.
"It's been surreal. It's bigger than I ever imagined...something I'm going to be grateful for the rest of my life," he told reporters.
"It's (TaeKwonDo) helped me use my disability to let other people know they're not as limited as they think they are," said DSUSA E-Team Member & Black Belt Austin Osner. He is preparing for the 2024 Paralympics: https://t.co/NkLUlL7Z9x via @enquirer @sspringersports — Disabled Sports USA (@DisabledSportUS) September 23, 2019
One of Austin's biggest achievements was attending a camp for amputee children hosted by the USA Patriots whose non-profit mission is "to bring athletic and veteran amputees together to promote the benefits of inclusive sport and therapeutic recreational activities."
"I kind of figured I wasn't the only one, but getting to interact with other people who were like me was pretty good," Austin happily expressed.
"I always had these limits and started to push them. That kind of helped me out and made me want to compete even more," Austin added.
Austin is now a black-belt but 4 years ago he was bullied at public school. He was getting poor grades and was experiencing depression until eventually, he was forced to withdraw from school and enroll instead at an online school to avoid the conflict. "It affected me a lot," he said.
In the past year, along with Cody Rice, a wounded warrior from the USA Patriots amputee camp, Austin went back to the public school where he'd been bullied to share his story in front of 1,000 audience members.
"I never really imagined that I would be the one to reach out to people," Austin said. He also shared that he hopes to someday be able to start a summer camp for amputees like himself.
Brad DeMinck, his Para-Taekwondo coach told reporters that they are preparing Austin for the 2024 Paralympic Games. "We want to change people's lives," DeMinck had said, referring to how they have turned Austin's life around through the sport.
Austin has won several state-Olympic sparring tournaments while fighting against non-disabled competitors. He added that he is now adjusting to compete with physically-challenged opponents for the Paralympics games.
"I was fighting able-body, starting this year I'm fighting para now as well. It's always been a challenge but my coach in Michigan has helped me adapt," Austin said.
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