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 Omar Bermejo (single arm amputee) will be representing Team USA in Nordic skiing. For details about televised coverage of the Paralympics, please see this press release.
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You can also follow Omar's blog here:
A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Omar joined the Marine Corps at the age of 17 and rose to the rank of Sergeant over 10 years that included four deployments to Iraq. In June 2008, shortly after returning from that fourth deployment, a motorcycle accident claimed his right arm. Four months after the amputation, at a rehabilitation facility in upstate New York, Omar tried cross-country skiing for the first time.
He’ll be in Sochi next month, representing Team USA and competing in Nordic skiing in the XI Paralympic Winter Games.
“To have reached this level of competition means that, in fact, nothing is impossible!” Omar says. “It took me losing my arm in order to find out what I was made of, and with hard work and dedication to the sport—or to anything, for that matter—everything is possible.”
“I want to live and compete as inspiration for other people like me,” he continues, “people who might think their life is over just because life threw them a curve ball. Life is not over until you decide it is. I want them to know that if they believe they are on their last strike and if they have the inner strength to have just one more swing at the bat, then go swinging hard—and maybe, just maybe, they will hit a home run. But one thing will be true: We tried until the end.”
Omar admits that dealing with disappointment is always hard, but notes that persistence has always been his greatest ally. That persistence has paid off: He’s received multiple medals in national-caliber races in both cross-country skiing and biathlon—and, of course, there’s the honor of representing the U.S. in Sochi.
“To have afforded my mother, sisters and girlfriend an opportunity to cheer for me in the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, is simply amazing. For them—and for all Americans—I will do my best.”
Family is often on Omar’s mind when he competes. He lost his grandfather late in 2013, and before each race he dedicates his efforts to his grandfather’s memory.
“Cheer for me in Sochi!” Omar says gleefully. “I represent not only the nation I love and respect, but cheer for me for my love of life and hard work—both of which are fundamentals to having a great and fulfilling life. We are all on the verge of achieving a great life, but sometimes we just need to take a plunge.”
“Thank you for your support,” Omar adds. “I will do my absolute best!”