Scott Winkler was introduced to shot put and discus at the 2006 United States Olympic Committee Paralympic Military Sports Camp in Colorado Springs, Colo. Since then, the Grovetown resident has been one of the best in the world at his events.
He set the American record in the shot put (11.27 meters), placing fifth at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China. He now has the 2012 Paralympic Games in London in his sights.
First up, however, is the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Athletics Trials in Indianapolis, Ind. from June 29-July 1.
For the former U.S. Army cook, who was paralyzed from the waist down in an accident in Iraq, being a part of the Olympics means a great deal.
“I wore the battle dress uniform; now I wear the athletic uniform,” said Winkler. “It’s a huge honor to represent your country. Not everybody can say they’ve done it. I can say I’ve done it once and I want to do it again, and this time I want to take the gold medal from other countries.”
Following the Beijing Olympics, Winkler met Randy Taylor, the Gordon Fitness Center facility manager and personal trainer, and Taylor started training Winkler shortly thereafter.
“In 2008, he didn’t know what the hell he was doing and took fifth,” said Taylor of Winklers’ training.
So now, under Taylor’s guidance, Winkler lifts weights Monday, Wednesday and Friday, throws Tuesday and Thursday and finishes off the week with a Friday massage.
“I needed the next step to the next level,” said Winkler of his training with Taylor.
With Winkler’s physical prowess, Taylor has been working with him on the mental approach to the sport.
“He’s got a natural talent there, we’ve just got to keep him convinced,” Taylor said. “Sometimes we let insecurities creep into our minds.”
Some of those fears were there early on for Winkler and some remain even with his continued success.
“Sometimes I think I’m a better coach than athlete,” said Winkler, who is a certified track and field coach.
One of the biggest obstacles facing Winkler as he heads into the trials is overcoming a surgically-repaired right triceps. He hyperextended his elbow in November throwing the discus at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. He still finished with the gold medal in the shot put and bronze in the discus.
“It felt like my life was over,” Winkler said. “I didn’t know if I would throw again.”
The 39-year-old started throwing two months after his surgery, and knows this could be the final Paralympics for him.
“This might be my last chance,” Winkler said. “This wears the body big time. I’ll push as long as I can.
“I’ll still be in the gym afterwards to stay fit.”