Blake Haxton poses at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit on March 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.
Blake Haxton, with his close-cropped, neatly combed dark hair and black rimmed glasses, has a bit of a Clark Kent vibe going. You know, mild-mannered journalist — or in his case, lawyer — who can quick-change into a super-hero paddler when his country needs him.
Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, Haxton took up rowing in high school, when several of his friends wanted to join the school’s team and convinced him to do it as well.
It turned out that he liked it.
If you watched any of the Olympic rowing or canoe races, you would have seen just how much the athletes use their legs to maximize their upper body movement and add power. That’s not a factor for Haxton, who lost both of his legs below the waist due to a bacterial infection — Necrotizing Fasciitis — that he contracted somehow, somewhere during his senior year. He still doesn’t know.
It struck quickly, putting him into a coma, but he survived.
“I woke up a month and half later and both legs were gone,” he told Cincinnati’s WLWT. “I still didn’t know what I had, and I was as surprised as anything.”
Nobody is prepared to lose their legs. Haxton settled in for what figured to be a long recovery.
“I don’t think any of us, certainly me, and any of my family really understood how much of a recovery I could make,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “I totally underestimated how far I could go.”
How about the 5,044 miles from Columbus to Rio de Janeiro?