After a personal setback in 2005, Idalou native Matt Brown is going to the London games this summer, and he prepares for competition the same as any other Olympian.
The difference? The two-time high school state champ uses a prosthetic, after a natural gas well explosion took his left foot almost seven years ago.
"Everybody deals with tragedy in their life," said Brown. "It's how you face that and tackle that [that makes the difference]."
The former Abilene Christian University All-American placed fourth in the Beijing Paralympic Games(2008) and won gold twice in the Pan-American Games(2007, '11).
"It's just, probably, the type of person I am," said the former World #1 Discuss thrower. "I love a challenge, and this is definitely a challenge - I knew it wasn't going to be easy and it hasn't been easy."
The former prosthetic used by Brown in the 2008 Games is predominantly used for straight-line runners and sprinters; that's the reason College Park Industries decided to step in and make a prosthetic limb that could handle the torque it takes to throw a discuss the length of almost 55 yards(around 50 meters) on a football field.
"This [new] foot is just a lot better, a lot more natural to him," explained Jason Phillips, Brown's prosthetic fitter with Lubbock Artificial Limb & Brace. "He can get that rotation when he's throwing, and having that heel on his foot compared to his other throwing leg [allows him to] block up a lot better."
"Right out of the box, he tried it and it made a difference in his throwing," said College Park Industries representative David Frost. "[Brown] said immediately he could feel a difference. An athlete like Matt, he can have any foot or any prosthesis he needs or wants because anyone would jump at the chance to be a part of that."
"Every four years the Olympics comes around, and to know an athlete the caliber of Matt wearing a Soleus foot...that really has made our year."
And after all he's gone through, Brown is determined to bring London gold back to the Lone Star State.
"I'm very proud of who I am and where I'm from," said the Paralympian. "So I'm not only representing the United States but representing Texas and West Texas, as well - that's a very big honor for me."
"My advice to anyone who's dealing with this is: you're going to have bad and good days, but you have a life to live. You've got to go out and live that life"
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