Jackson man pursues Olympic dreams - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Jackson man pursues Olympic dreams

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Seven years ago, Zach Young's world as he knew it changed in an instant. On October 15, 2005 on Main Street in Jackson, Young's motorcycle crashed into a minivan. Seven years ago, Zach Young's world as he knew it changed in an instant. On October 15, 2005 on Main Street in Jackson, Young's motorcycle crashed into a minivan.
Zach works out 5-6 days a week, setting his goals higher and higher. His dream is to compete in the 2016 paralympics in Rio De Janeiro. Zach works out 5-6 days a week, setting his goals higher and higher. His dream is to compete in the 2016 paralympics in Rio De Janeiro.
Zach said the biggest challenge was the pool. Zach said the biggest challenge was the pool.
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JACKSON, MO (KFVS) -

A Jackson man took a horrible life changing event and turned it into something amazing.

An event seven years ago sent Zach Young's life to a crashing halt. Today, just try and stop him.

Competing in a triathlon is grueling, takes strength, determination, and unyielding perseverance.

Now imagine doing all of that without the use of your legs.

"I give all my shortcomings to God, that's when I figured God had a purpose for me," said Zach Young. 

Seven years ago, Zach Young's world as he knew it changed in an instant.

On October 15, 2005 on Main Street in Jackson, Young's motorcycle crashed into a minivan.

"I hit head first, my spine did a domino effect," said Young. "As I laid on the ground I knew I was paralyzed, I couldn't move my legs any longer."

He spent a month and a half in the hospital. That was plenty of time to agonize over one haunting word…paraplegic.

"At first I was focused on all the things that changed in my life, things I couldn't do."

The simple things in life proved challenging.

"Somedays I'll wake up and it's clear, that I don't have the use of my legs," said Young. "Sometimes the hardest thing to do is get out of bed and face another day."

He fought depression and anger, but is a different person today. 

"I'm able to now look at all I can do and in the future," said Young. 

Two years ago a veteran surprised Zach with a bike.

"It started the whole thing for me for sports."

Last summer Zach started training for his first triathlon.

The biggest challenge he said was the pool. "I thought I was going to drown," said Young. "I probably drank a gallon of water."

He refused to give up.

"I remember swimming and telling myself can you do this? It's a lot harder than I thought."

He finished his first race, and within a year has completed several.

It is certainly no easy task. Fellow athlete Don Dowling knows first hand.

"It really gets tough, but he really does well for a first-time athlete," said Dowling. 

He gets stronger with each triathlon.

"I feel exhilaration finishing the race," said Young. "It's a joy like no other when I finish a race."

Zach works out 5-6 days a week, setting his goals higher and higher.

His dream is to compete in the 2016 paralympics in Rio De Janeiro.

"It's my number one goal right now."

Don Dowling said, "I think by Rio he's got a good shot."

"It makes these short term goals that much more gratifying and satisfying," said Young.

Zach says there is no way he would be where he is right now without the love of his family, friends, and most of all his faith.

"I'm blessed," said Young. "God gave me another chance and I'm fortunate to have it."

Zach's next triathlon is in September at the Trail of Tears State Park in Cape County.

He is also starting back to college soon, and has high hopes of becoming a graphic designer.

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