'The American Blade Runner' to compete at Desert Challenge Games - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

'The American Blade Runner' to compete at Desert Challenge Games

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Blake Leeper Blake Leeper
MESA, Ariz. - Some of the world's greatest athletes are gathering in Mesa for the Desert Challenge Games, sponsored by Arizona Disabled Sports.

One of those athletes is "The American Blade Runner."  He's 24-year-old Blake Leeper -- one of the fastest runners in the world. 

He won silver and bronze medals at the London Paralympics games in 2012.  His specialty is the 200 meter sprint -- half a lap around the track.  But he also runs the 400 -- one full lap and the 100 meter sprint.

Leeper hopes to qualify for the U.S. Men's Olympic team in Brazil in two years.

"If you were to come up to me five years ago and say, 'Blake you are going to be a professional runner trying to make the Olympic team,' I would have laughed in your face.  I have no legs there, but every day I put on my blades, I feel I transform into a superhero," he said.

"Basically my story is born in deep south.. Tennessee, no legs, doctor said I would never walk.  It is crazy to think growing up, I always questioned why.. why me?  Why does this happen to me?  I was the kid with the legs picked last.. made fun of... but as I got older, I realized instead of why me, I thought why not me, well why not me? I am strong enough for this.  When I cross that finish line, I want to be there by myself.. number one.. look to my left and right and see nobody else except for me.  I consider myself the American Blade Runner.  I represent my country.. nothing better than to be a blade runner, no greater feeling than wearing the red white and blue."

Leeper lives and trains in San Diego.  He also plans to study to become a doctor.

The Desert Challenge Games feature track and field events, swimming, archery and more.  The main venue is Red Mountain High School in Mesa.

Online: www.desertchallengegames.com/Schedule.html

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