The Augusta Bulldogs have their bully back.
Scott Winkler returned to his Grovetown home Thursday to what was expected to be a surprise party. The welcoming party was initially planned for the Columbia airport, but Winkler's friends wanted a more private environment in case the scene got too emotional.
The 35-year-old finished fifth in the shot put at the Paralympic Games in Beijing, throwing a personal best 11.27 meters. The winner was Olokhan Musayev, whose distance of 13.49 meters set a world record.
"He was down himself after the results, but he's come to the realization that he threw his personal best," said Jeff Snover, Winkler's friend and the co-chairman of Champions Made From Adversity. "He trained hard and threw the best that he could."
Winkler spent a lot of time training for the event, driving back and forth to Alabama each week to work with a personal coach. He got a tattoo with the Olympic rings and talked of the honor it would be to again serve his country.
Winkler is a veteran of the war in Iraq, where he was paralyzed from the waist down. Since then, his passion has centered on wheelchair athletics. And the Bulldogs, a wheelchair basketball team, will be glad to have him back.
The team kicked off its season Aug. 30 without Winkler, who already had left for Beijing. Winkler's play has been likened to that of a tornado. He flies around the court with little regard for life and limb.
He'll hit the court again soon, and he'll probably be greeted by the same group that sent him off weeks ago.
Winkler might not get another chance like the one he had during the past two weeks in Beijing. But he's going to try.
"He's bound and determined to return to the Paralympics in London in 2012," Snover said.
7 p.m. Greenbrier-Parkview softball at the University of Georgia
5 p.m. Augusta Prep boys soccer vs. John Milledge
5 p.m. Evans softball vs. Hephzibah
5 p.m. Greenbrier softball vs. Newton
5 p.m. Harlem softball at Butler
5 p.m. Lakeside softball vs. Westside
5 p.m. Lakeside volleyball vs. Harlem
7 p.m. Lakeside volleyball vs. Evans
4:30 p.m. Augusta Prep
soccer at Weber
5 p.m. Harlem softball vs. Josey
5 p.m. Lakeside softball at Butler
5 p.m. Lakeside volleyball at Richmond Academy
5:30 p.m. Evans softball at Cross Creek
6 p.m. Lakeside, Evans
volleyball at Richmond Academy
7 p.m. Augusta Prep soccer at Dominion Christian
7:30 p.m. Augusta Christian football vs. Ben Lippen
7:30 p.m. Evans football vs. Glenn Hills
7:30 p.m. Lakeside football at Harlem
7:30 p.m. Greenbrier
football at Douglass
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