Wheelchair athletes prepare for AJC Peachtree Road Race

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ATLANTA - Some of the most elite world athletes in the annual AJC Peachtree Road Race are competing in wheelchairs.
   

Channel 2’s Jeff Dore was at the Intercontinental Hotel Buckhead as the world's top wheelchair athletes unloaded chairs at their hotel headquarters Wednesday. He spoke to one man who said wheelchair athletics gave him a new lease on life.

In several hours, the racers will dash past the Shepherd Center in view of patients, some in need of that moment when they see their own potential.

“Everybody gets that different ‘ah ha’ moment but for many, the Peachtree Road Race is that ‘ah ha’ moment,” wheelchair race coordinator Becky Washburn told Dore.

Competitors said they were happy to be there.

“I’ve got a full life, and that's what I can tell people,” wheelchair champion Krige Shabort said.

Shabort's life changing moment came when the Cold War got hot, and a bomb from a Russian aircraft blew apart his legs in Angola, far from medics or medicine.

“I really shouldn't be here today. It's a miracle that I’m here,” Shabort said.

He thought life was over until he discovered wheelchair athletics. He has won world class marathons and Paralympics, most recently for his new home country: the United States of America.

“At this stage of my life, I’m not an up and coming athlete. I'm an outgoing athlete. So, to say I could still compete for the U.S., the strongest team in the world, was quite an accomplishment and to be really proud, and I’m honored,” Shabort said.

Since losing his legs, he's won medals, gotten married and had three kids. He said his life is a testament to the power of persistence.

“Never give up. That's my motto,” he said.



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