VA Adaptive Sports

Success Stories - Carlos Leon

Photograph of Carlos Leon

Name: Carlos Leon

Military Branch: Marines

Disability: Quadriplegic

Adaptive Sport: Discus

Training Regimen: "I pretty much live at the gym because I want to be the best in the world at the discus throw."

Competitions: Silver medal in the discus and a bronze medal in the shot put at the 2007 Parapan American Games in Rio de Janeiro.

How did you get involved in adaptive sports: "My parents are Colombian so playing soccer at an early age is a tradition in my family. I've been an athlete my entire life. In June 2005, I had recently returned from deployment in Iraq and was six months from relief of active duty. While stationed in Hawaii's Kane'ohe Bay, I went swimming with some friends. I dove in the water, hit some coral rock and broke my neck at the fifth cervical vertebrae. Five months later, I attended my first sports camp."

How adaptive sports changed your life: "My family, friends and the Corps were behind me 100%. Playing sports, along with everyone's support, played a key role in my physical recovery as well as my psychological recovery. Six years have passed since my accident where I lost function of my limbs. Now, I can walk with the assistance of a cane or walker. My discus throw, which is now my sole focus, has gone from eight meters on my first throw five years ago to nearly 24 meters. I am only 2.62 meters off the world record."

Carlos participates in sports for: Rehabilitation, fitness, competition and to make new friends.

Fun fact: Carlos likes to blast music while he washes the dishes and is an avid soccer fan.

Want to learn more about programs and services related to healthcare, employment, education and other topics? Visit the National Resource Directory (www.NRD.gov).