LOS ANGELES, CA–(Marketwired – Jun 21, 2017) – Patrick “Blake” Leeper, eight-time Paralympic Track and Field international medalist, world record holder and three-time American record holder, will continue his journey to break the Class T 43, 400-meter world record set by Oscar Pistorius starting June 22, 2017. “You are in the meet, in the men’s 400m,” Leeper received official notification from USA Track and Field’s Chief of Sport Performance Director P. “Duffy” Mahoney confirming his spot in the 400-meter race. The best Track and Field athletes in the country will compete in Sacramento at Hornet Stadium to qualify for the IAAF World Championships in London. Leeper would be the first double amputee to make the U.S. National Team if he qualifies. For Leeper to reach this point has been dramatic, inspiring and a testament to both his grit and perseverance.
Leeper started his medal run in 2011 at the Parapan American Games where he took silver in the 100-meter dash. He went on to compete in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, where he picked up two more medals, a bronze in the 200-meter and silver in the 400-meter, finishing behind South African Oscar Pistorius, whose world record of 45.39 seconds is the one Leeper is chasing. In 2013, Leeper also took four medals at the Paralympic World Championships in Lyon, France, where he ran as part of the world record-setting 4×100-meter relay gold medal team.
The 27-year-old Leeper, who was born without legs from a congenital birth defect, did not start racing until 2010. It was at his first ever race in Edmond, Oklahoma that he caught the attention of the Associate Director of High Performance for U.S. Paralympics Track and Field, who convinced his parents to let their son move into the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. Leeper left the University of Tennessee to embark on a journey that no one could envision for a kid from Tennessee born without legs.
Unfortunately, Leeper had some habits he has had to overcome. At the age of 15, he started drinking. Then in 2015, he opened a letter from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency telling him that he was suspended after he tested positive for a prohibited substance (even though it was a nonperformance-enhancing drug). That event led to the formation of #TeamLeepster, Leeper’s new management team formed by the late Entrepreneur-Philanthropist Robert H. “Bob” Lorsch, who funded The Robert H. Lorsch Foundation Trust over 20 years ago. The purpose of the Foundation was to encourage youth participation in life-changing challenges through science, technology and athletics. When Lorsch recruited Adam Krajchir, formerly head coach and program director for the New York Road Runners Team for Kids, for his Foundation, Lorsch never expected that he would be building a program that would lead him to Leeper, who truly sets an example of participating in a life-changing challenge.
After learning about Leeper’s situation, Lorsch led the initiative to keep him sober while building a world-class support system for the runner, including Olympic Gold Medalist and Super Bowl Champion Willie Gault, the First Family of Track’s Al Joyner, John Smith ex-coach and World Record holder in the 400 yards, Aaron Holm at Wiggle Your Toes Foundation, Johann Stefansson at Muscle Mechanics, leading nutritional and weight training, a team of psychiatric recovery experts and other medical professionals from The Bresler Center, and financial and business management from Nigro Karlin Segal Feldstein & Bolno. Patrick also continues to be sponsored by Nike, Eastman Chemical Company, Quest Nutrition, Probulin, Webcreators, Frazier Aviation, and the Robert H. Lorsch Foundation.
Patrick “Blake” Leeper was chosen by U.S. Paralympics to represent Team USA in Rio 2016. At the U.S. Paralympic Trials, he set an American record in the 200m with a time of 21.5 and an American record in the 400m at 46.1. He took silver in the 100m despite losing a prosthetic leg crossing the finish line, which was shown live on NBC.
TeamLeepster’s first and foremost objective was to support Leeper in his sobriety and help him set an example of what can be done regardless of the adversities life throws your way. Represented by American Program Bureau (APB), he now shares his story to inspire others with motivational speaking engagements around the world. According to Kira Lorsch, Bob Lorsch’s widow, who has taken the reigns at The RHL Group, “Along with TeamLeepster, RHL will continue to represent and support Leeper as we field new management partners and sports agencies moving forward with his fast track career. It was one of my husband’s final wishes that Patrick run and win to set an example that nothing is impossible.”
About Patrick “Blake” Leeper:
Patrick “Blake” Leeper’s rise to champion is both heart-rending and inspiring. Born in Tennessee in 1989 without legs below the knee, he was supposed to spend his life in a wheelchair. But by nine, he was able to play sports on some basic artificial legs, coached by his father. While he was attending the University of Tennessee, the Challenged Athletes Foundation saw his potential and provided him with a pair of $30,000 carbon-fiber running prosthetics. The U.S. Olympic Committee selected him as just one of 12 athletes to reside at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., and he won a silver medal in the World Championships in the 100-meter relay in 2011. The charismatic runner was a media star and a hit with donors to the games.
At the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, Leeper earned a bronze in the 200 meters and a silver in the 400 meters, just behind Oscar Pistorius. After the South African’s conviction for murder, Leeper was expected to be a gold contender for the 2016 Paralympics and possibly the main Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Then in June 2015, he was given a two-year suspension for using a nonperformance-enhancing substance. After learning about Patrick’s situation, Los Angeles businessman-philanthropist Robert H. “Bob” Lorsch, who recently passed away, formed #TeamLeepster which negotiated a one-year suspension, with the expectation that he could go to the Paralympic and Olympic trials. He was chosen for the U.S. Paralympic team, but the International Paralympic Committee did not recognize the reduced suspension and did not allow him to run in Rio. His full suspension is now lifted and Leeper is ready to run.
For more information about Patrick “Blake” Leeper’s career, visit www.PatrickBlakeLeeper.com and follow #teamleepster.
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