U.S. Navy Veteran Gives All in Paralympics
Chris Clemens served his country and gave his best - again. Tonight, it was as a U.S. Paralympic athlete.
Roman Pavlyk of Ukraine set a race record 24.70 to win the gold medal in the Men’s 200m T36 Final. Clemens ran his personal best 26.68 to finish eight. Clemens is a U.S. Navy veteran, injured while serving in Afghanistan.
“It was awesome,” Clemens said. “The crowd was exhilarating in my first Paralympic Games.”
“I’m 38-years old,” Clemens said post race. “And I’m running with a bunch of teenagers. I’m going to hold on until the World Championships, and then change to a different sport.
Clemens time serving his country helps his training and his determination.
“I just understand that giving 110% is the best thing you can do, just like in the military giving 110 percent all the time. The training was pretty rigorous – six days a week, three times a day. Weight room, cardio and straight run training.”
Clemens sustained a traumatic brain injury and hearing loss while serving in 2005. He is one of the founders of the Arizona Disabled Sports organization and involved in Wounded Warriors.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) affects many veterans. Of the total 178,876 TBI cases since 2000, 137,000 have been mild, 30,000 have been moderate and over 1,800 have been severe.
“My brain feels like it's scrambled,” Clemens said to the Paralympic press. “These days it's really hard for me to focus on any one task. I can't remember anything anymore unless it's written down. For a while, I really lost hope and didn't know if I could be happy again. But then I found that doing things like skiing and competing again. It has really lifted my spirits."
When asked about serving his country again, this time with USA across his chest in his first Paralympic Games, Clemens smiled.
“Always true and blue!” he said.