Raising an Olympian: Kortney Clemons

The phrase "faith and determination" is often used to describe the force that powers certain individuals to accomplish amazing feats. For U.S. Paralympian sprinter Kortney Clemons, it's not only an accurate description; it's inherent to his life because of his mom.

"My mom, she told us that everyday you get another opportunity to make your life better. Some days, you may not get as far as you would like to but you learn from those days and you continue to use that to go through life."

Clemons will be participating in the 2012 Paralymics Competition, competing in the 100 meter, 200 meter, and long jump. And his journey to the Paralympics began in 2005. After attending a community college, Clemons served as a combat medic in the U.S. Army: "I really saw her [my mom] every day, put our needs before her own, so me joining the Army and being a medic, it was just second nature." While stationed in Iraq in 2005, Clemons was conducting a routine patrol and came across a truck that had flipped over. Knowing there were U.S. soldiers in the truck, he and other troops went to rescue them. "Sometimes you have to put other peoples lives above of your own because they're depending on you," he says. As he was trying to help the other soldiers, a bomb exploded. And Kortney Clemons lost his right leg below his knee.

Click for more photos of Kortney ClemonsClick for more photos of Kortney ClemonsWhile in the hospital after the accident, Clemons wondered what he'd done to deserve this fate. With his mom's help, he turned to his faith. She told him, "God could have took your whole life, but he left you back here for some reason. We're gonna hold onto that." Lois Clemons stayed with him for his three-month recovery. "As a mom, you need to be there to support your kid, no matter what it is. You just need to be there. It's just that mom love, I guess."

Kortney Clemons knew that his mom's support was boundless and it helped him overcome this new life challenge. Both mom and son easily recall the day that Kortney wanted to try track and field. They were sitting on a grass field watching another athlete, just like him, who'd lost a limb. Said Lois Clemons: "I told him, 'Your mind controls your whole body. If you got that in your mind, you can do it, you can do anything.'"

Clemons didn't qualify for the 2008 Paralympics, but can't wait to compete in the 2012 Paralympics in London. In fact, he's the first veteran from the Iraq war to be on the U.S. Paralymic Team. His mom, naturally, will be on hand to watch.

"To have my mother in London, I'm sure we're gonna have have the opportunity to talk about that journey. It was that moment, sitting in that grass, when she told me,'Son, you can do anything you put your mind to.' And I believed it."

The Procter & Gamble video series, "Raising an Olympian," will run through the London Games and profiles athletes, their dedicated efforts to make it to Olympic games, and the mothers who had tremendous impacts on their lives. Check out Team Mom on Yahoo! Shine all summer for additional "Raising an Olympian" segments.

Also on Shine:
Raising an Olympian: Ryan Lochte
Raising an Olympian: Kerri Walsh-Jennings
Raising an Olympian: Shawn Johnson

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