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A Look At The Paralympic Games Through The Lens Of A Veteran

By Amy Rosewater | Nov. 12, 2012, 3 p.m. (ET)

Lex GilletteBuzz Covington, who retired from the U.S. Army in 2011, photographed the London 2012 Paralympic Games for the United States Olympic Committee. One of his favorite moments of the Games was photographing Lex Gillette, who won the silver medal in the men's long jump (F11).

Buzz Covington had no idea when he began taking photography classes as a fifth grader that he would one day witness the Paralympic Games through a camera lens.

From the moment Covington first held a camera, he always seemed to be taking photos. But his life was so busy, that photography was his hobby not his occupation. After serving eight years in the U.S. Navy and 17 more in the U.S. Army — including a deployment in Iraq—Covington retired in 2011. He and his wife moved to the United Kingdom and he started a photography business.

As luck would have it, the Paralympic Games came to London in 2012, and Covington landed a gig taking photos for the United States Olympic Committee.  He was one of several veterans who volunteered to help with the London 2012 Paralympic Games. TeamUSA.org wanted to share some of Covington’s photos from the Paralympic Games in honor of Veterans’ Day.

“It was a great experience,” said Covington in a telephone interview. “I got to be a lot of exciting sporting events, and it also helped me grow as a photographer.”

Among some of the highlights were taking shots of Lex Gillette, who earned his third consecutive long jump silver medal in London, the women’s sitting volleyball team and rowing. Covington photographed everything from archery to cycling during the Games, which ran from Aug. 29-Sept. 9

Covington had not done much in the way of sports photography prior to taking shots at the Paralympic Games, and he had never attended a Paralympic Games before the ones in London. Now, however, he is hooked and has his sights set on going to Rio in 2016.

“It definitely gave me a greater appreciation for people being able to pick up the pieces after suffering devastating injuries,” Covington said. “I was definitely able to empathize with them and marvel at them.”

Covington came into the Paralympic Games with a unique perspective. His aircraft went down while in Iraq in 2003 and the lower discs in his back were smashed. He was sidelined for four months, but soon was back in combat again.

Among Covington’s favorite photos was one of four-time track and field gold medalist Raymond Martin. Another favorite was a black-and-white photo of rowers Oksana Masters and Rob Jones, who earned a bronze medal in the mixed double sculls in London. Jones lost both of his legs while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan. The photo Covington shot was of the two of them with their medals around their necks looking at the American flag.

“I just love that one with the two of them looking up at the flag,” Covington said. “I definitely picked the right spot that day.”

For a look at some of the other photos Covington shot during the Paralympic Games, click on these links:

Amy Rosewater is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org. This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.

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