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Blake Leeper Leads U.S. Into Paralympic World Championships

 The IPC Athletics World Championships will be held next month in Lyon, France. Competing for the United States is a sprinter named Blake Leeper, who was born with both legs missing below the knee. He's worn prosthetics since he was nine months old. At birth, the doctor told his mother, Enid that Leeper would never walk.

"We decided we would treat him as if he did have limbs," Enid said. "No exceptions."

Leeper's athletic career was inspired in part by his parents employing some reverse psychology. "I remember my parents telling me that the doctor said I'd never be involved in athletic activity," Leeper said. "They said I wouldn't be able to run and jump like the rest of the kids. That I would have to play the piano or something like that."

In keeping with his motto, "Life if 10% what you deal with and 90% how you deal with it," Leeper figured out how to run and jump well enough to play on his high school's varsity basketball team -- before he had access to high-tech prosthetics like those used by South African sprinter Oscar Pastorius.

When those prosthetics became available, Leeper leaped at the opportunity to compete in track and field. His first race was at the 2009 Endeavor Games in Oklahoma, and he made his international debut in Rio di Janero that same year.

He's coached by Olympic great Joaquim Cruz. Leeper, 23 years old, earned a physics degree from San Diego State University, and is currently studying medicine at the University of Tennessee. His personal goal is to compete as an able-bodied athlete in the 2016 Olympic Games.