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Paralympian Hoping to Represent U.S. in Olympics Races Against Time

By: Fox 41 News

A Bellarmine University graduate is poised to represent the U.S. in discus and shot put this summer in China. But one thing is holding him back and it’s out of his control.

When Dennis Ogbe throws the discus or shot put, he says he feels as strong as any Olympic athlete.

Only he’s a Paralympian. But don’t tell the decorated athlete he’s disabled. Ogbe’s world record in discus last season makes him the favorite to compete for the U.S. two weeks after the summer Olympics.

But Ogbe is also competing against time. He must get his U.S. citizenship before he can represent the U.S. in Beijing.

Dennis Ogbe was born in Nigeria and soon met a series of struggles, starting with a battle against malaria, when he says a nurse broke a needle inside his leg, leaving him in a coma. Then polio left him paralyzed in his left leg.

Ogbe says, “So I like challenges growing up, you know. And I tried. I would fall down with bruises. But while I was doing that, it was a therapy that no doctor would give me, you know.”

“Therapy” that allowed Ogbe to look past his disability and see his ability. Bellarmine University coach Jim Vargo saw it too after Ogbe won the Paralympic gold medal for Nigeria in 2000.

Coach Jim Vargo, Bellarmine University Track and Field says, “Dennis is an athlete, who is a world-class athlete. He competes at the highest level, and if he were out here against able-bodied people, would put many of them in their place.”

Coach Vargo helped bring Dennis to the U.S. and helped him get a custom chair to throw from. Vargo says, “He’s very humble, he’s very passionate about what he does.”

Ogbe says, “Determination. It has to do with a lot of perseverance. It has to do with a lot of hard work.”

Dennis Ogbe says one day, he will return to Nigeria to give back to his native country. Ogbe heads off to the U.S. National Paralympic trials in less than two weeks.

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