Para-athlete Josh Kennison wins bronze at world championships

Most people run after a dream, but for Josh Kennison, running is the dream.

Kennison’s dream got a little sweeter recently when he won the bronze medal in the 100-meter sprint at the International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships.

Josh Kennison competes in a race. Kennison, who was born without feet and arms, just won the bronze medal at the IPC Athletics World Championships. Photo credit: Kristel Wagner

Josh Kennison competes in a race. Kennison, who was born without feet and arms, just won the bronze medal at the IPC Athletics World Championships. Photo credit: Kristel Wagner

Born without feet, as well as arms, tongue and half of his jaw, Kennison finished the sprint in 11.93 seconds with the help of prosthetics — or what he calls his “running legs.”

The bronze is his first career world championship medal.

“This was my first world meet, and I was just excited to go across the world to compete — bringing home a medal was a plus,” Kennison says.

The IPC Athletics World Championships took place July 19-28 in Lyon, France. Almost 1,100 athletes from 99 countries participated.

Kennison competed with six others in the 100-meter sprint, which resulted in American Blake Leeper placing second and Brazilian Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira grabbing the gold.

“Now, that I took home the bronze, now my name is out there … kids will know who I am out there,” Kennison says. “I just like to inspire the kids, and honestly that’s why I am here today — I love to inspire.”

As for Kennison’s next steps, he says he hopes to medal at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships as well as the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. He also wants to become the best American sprinter in his division.

“You can do anything you set your mind to as long as you have the right mindset,” Kennison says.

This is the message he will take with him when he visits Camp No Limits, a camp that hosts young children with limb loss and helps them “discover and develop a healthy, happy and independent lifestyle.”

Kennison has worked with Camp No Limits since 2005, and he’s also the vice president of the Never Say Never Foundation, which teaches kids with limb loss how to stay positive and lead an active life.

“Growing up, my parents never told me I couldn’t — I have always tried to have that mindset,” Kennison says. “Once I got into running, there are the guys out there — no knees, whatever their handicap is — out there running. I see kids out there. Really it’s the world that inspires me, the people who may not have it as well as I do.”

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