Published: July 18, 2013
Count Canon City native Steven Hancock among the lives changed during the recent Warrior Games.
Thanks to that event and his success since, the wheelchair-bound Navy veteran, 24, is back wearing his country's uniform, as a member of the U.S. team competing in the International Paralympic Committees Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France, on July 19-28.
"I am very proud to represent my country," he said. "I never thought I would again."
His confidence soared after he won Warrior Games gold medals in the shot put and discus a little more than two years after a rappelling training accident in Bahrain severed his spine on April 2, 2010. He reached the Games for the first time this May.
The experience in Colorado Springs "opened my eyes," he said.
"The coaches told me I could go far," he said. "I had no idea how far because I had never heard of the Endeavor Games or nationals."
He won gold in his two events and added a silver in the javelin at the Endeavor Games, a similar event to the Warrior Games.
"I never even picked up a javelin before," he said. "I was a football player and wrestler. I was a bigger guy so the doctors at the Navy rehab center told me I was throwing the shot put and discus."
At Paralympic nationals June 14-15, he added another gold medal in the discus and shot put and qualified for the world championships in France, which include more than 1,100 athletes from 98 countries. Of the 76 on Team USA, 10 are veterans and two are active-duty service members.
Steven is one of two Coloradans with fellow Navy vet Max Rohn of Longmont.
"Max is a good friend," Hancock said. "We're all brothers willing to help each other out. The most important thing is this gets me out of the house. I get to meet and talk with others with similar experiences. We're all in the same boat. We all got injured in the service. We all lean on each other."
Hancock's performance at the Warrior Games got the attention of Team USA coaches who worked with him the past couple of months. The Paralympics are in 2016.
"I feel confident that I will do well over there in France," he said. "I didn't know about all these events I could compete in year-round until the Warrior Games people told me. I will keep training to get better and better because 2016 is the goal. Now that I have reached worlds, I know I have what it takes to make the team for Rio."