Double Amputee From Upper Arlington Wins U.S. Para-Rowing Trials

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UPDATED: Thursday July 10, 2014 12:09 AM

Blake Haxton is defying the odds five years after he almost lost his life.

The young man from Upper Arlington won the U.S. Para-rowing trial. He now moves on to the world competition in Amsterdam.

Blake is a double amputee.

"I contracted flesh eating disease. In two or three days, I went from perfect health to basically dead," Haxton said. That was back in 2009.

Doctor's at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center operated on Blake more than twenty times. In the end, they had to take his legs to save his life.   

"I tell people there are two ways to look at life. Yeah, lost my legs...isn't that horrible, such a tragedy. Then there's hey, I'm supposed to be dead, but I'm not," Blake said.

Blake chose to continue living like nothing happened.

He graduated from The Ohio State University and is now attending law school.

Blake didn't return to his love of rowing quickly. He coached, but didn't compete.

He decided to row again after realizing he posted good time on the row machine. He got back in the boat and right into competition.

After just a dozen times on the water, he won the U.S. trials.

"Even sitting here I can't believe it I get to represent the U.S."

It didn't surprise his friends.

"It did not surprise me he won," said friend Michael Caligiuri. "He doesn't let anything hold him back mentally."

"It's going to be me against the whole free world in a month...terrifying," Blake said.

Blake is practicing two times a day, six days a week for the world championships in Amsterdam next month.

Blake's long term goal includes graduating from law school and competing in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.

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