Stars of Sochi: Sgt. Jon Lujan

A Paralympics Profile

Sochi, Russia – On March 7, Fisht Olympic Stadium will host the opening ceremonies of the XI Paralympic Winter Games. Competitors in 10 disability categories will compete in five events—and Team Semper Fi athlete Jon Lujan (bilateral lower-leg paralysis) will be representing Team USA in alpine skiing. For details about televised coverage of the Paralympics, please see this press release.

Sgt. Jon Lujan is selected as the U.S. flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games!!
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Jon Lujan was the flagbearer for team USA during the Paralympic Opening Ceremonies.
“OH MY GOSH I AM THE FLAG BEARER FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND TEAM USA.” said TSF member Jon Lujan on his selection of being the flag bearer for Team USA during the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.
TSF member Jon Lujan was the flag bearer for Team USA during the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.
Jon Lujan was the flag bearer for Team USA during the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.
Sgt Jon Lujan (Incomplet Spinal Cord Injury) - Alpine Skiing.
Sgt Jon Lujan (Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury) – Alpine Skiing.

A native of Littleton, Colorado, Jon signed up twice for the Marine Corps: Once when he was 23 and newly married, and a second time in November 2001 as the direct result of the events of 9/11. On March 23, 2003—the fourth day of the war in Iraq—Jon was serving in An Nasiriyah when his convoy came under fire. Impacts to his back when his vehicle left the road to avoid fire resulted in two ruptured discs in his spine.

Jon underwent a few years of treatment before the pain got so bad that he elected to have corrective surgery. Jon was paralyzed below the waist for a time after the surgery, and today he has regained the use of his legs but still suffers from bilateral lower-leg paralysis.

He’ll be in Sochi next month, representing Team USA and competing in alpine skiing in the XI Paralympic Winter Games.

As the Olympic Games got underway in Sochi, we posed five questions to Jon as he prepared for the Paralympic Games to come:

What does it mean to you to have reached this level of athletic accomplishment?
“When I first started to ski race, I never imagined that I would reach this level, so I think to me it means that I have the never-give-up mentality. When I set my mind to do something, I do it.”

What was the greatest hurdle you had to overcome—aside from the obvious injury—to get to where you are now as an athlete?
“I think my greatest hurdle was the decision to quit my full-time job to pursue ski racing; that loss of income has really changed my lifestyle, but I am much happier now.”

What are the most notable athletic accomplishments you’ve achieved?
“I have one World Cup bronze medal in giant slalom, three National Championship medals and several other NorAm Medals.”

Is there anything that runs through your mind while you’re competing, that really serves to inspire you, that helps you drive yourself further when everything else is saying you can’t go any further?
“When I compete, I try to clear my mind and let muscle memory take hold. I find that I compete poorly if I have too many things going in my head.”

Is there anything else about your experience as an athlete that you would like visitors to our website to know?
“I would not be at the level of competition that I am at without the help of the Semper Fi Fund. The money and support that I have gotten from them is immeasurable—and a direct correlation to my success. Thanks to all of you who support us and make our dreams possible.

Go Team USA!”

See related articles:
Meet Our Paralympic Athletes
Meet Lieutenant Commander Dan Cnossen
Meet Petty Officer First Class Kevin Burton
Meet Petty Officer Second Class Tyler Burdick
Meet Sgt. Omar Bermejo
Meet Sgt Jon Lujan

You can also follow Jon’s blog here: