NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Among the nation’s veterans are some exceptional athletes, including some whose abilities were impaired on the battlefield.
As they come home, they have to figure out their new life and how to quench their thirst for competition.
Corwyn C.J. Collier had big dreams of taking his abilities in track and field all the way to the Olympics, but that all changed in May 2009. While serving in Iraq, his truck was hit by an IED and his hand was mangled, he suffered a severed artery and lost so much blood doctors thought he was going to die, CBS2’s Otis Livingston reported.
“They call my wife and they were like ‘he’s not going to make it, we’re going to stabilize him long enough to get him to Germany so you could see him one last time,’ because they didn’t think I was going to survive,” Collier said.
In fact, his heart stopped beating before he was resuscitated. He lost his fibula and the majority of his calf muscle in his right leg. Facing nine months of rehabilitation and a number of surgeries, he had to rely on his athletic career and military training.
“I would walk until my legs would start bleeding. I was that determined to get out of the hospital,” he said. “And just like when we were in the military or when I was in college and high school, I wasn’t going to let nothing stop me. Be the best that I could be.”
That’s where bodybuilding came in. He recently became the first amputee to turn pro, and now the “Triumph Games” at West Point give he and nine other world-class military athletes who have overcome catastrophic injuries the chance to compete for $50,000.
The unique opportunity has given Collier the chance to be an example to his three sons and the students he teaches.
“Don’t focus on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do, and once you realize what you can do, what you can’t do becomes obsolete,” he said.
One of the things he couldn’t do was swim.
“You will literately see the fear on my face,” he said. “I guess I got over it.”
There are two more episodes of the “Triumph Games” 2016 left. Monday night on CBS Sports Network the winner will be revealed, and next Saturday at 2 p.m. there will be a one-hour highlight show special.