Hunter Woodhall poses for a portrait during the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympic shoot on Nov. 22, 2019 in West Hollywood, Calif.
Hunter Woodhall, a 2016 Paralympic medalist in track and field, announced Sunday that he’ll forego his senior year of NCAA eligibility at Arkansas to turn professional.
“It’s been 21 years overcoming obstacles and fighting battles just to get to this point. However, I AM TURNING PRO!” he wrote in an extended Instagram post.
“More than anything I want to thank God, my family, my amazing girlfriend, teammates, coaches, and friends who helped get me here.”
A native of Syracuse, Utah, Woodhall was born with fibular hemimelia, a congenital defect in which the fibulas in his lower legs never formed, and at 11 months he had both legs amputated below the knee.
He played a variety of sports growing up and ultimately gravitated to track and field, where he made his first world championships in 2015, earning silver and bronze medals in 400- and 200-meter, respectively. One year later he made his Paralympic debut in Rio, where he won a silver medal in the 200 and bronze in the 400.
In 2017, he became the first double amputee to earn a Division I track and field scholarship, and through three years with the Razorbacks he became a four-time All-American. He’ll make his pro debut on Sunday in the American Track League 3 in Fayetteville, where the University of Arkansas is located. He plans to stay in town to train for this summer’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and will also help the team as a student assistant.
“When I was born doctors were quick to tell my parents I’d never be able to walk,” he continued in his Instagram post. “When I learned to run I had all kinds of people laugh at my dream to make it my career. I battled through bullying, hateful people, appeals from others trying to keep me out of the sport, and so much more. I don’t say that to show how great I am, but to show what is possible when you want something badly enough.”
In a story on the Razorbacks’ website, Arkansas men’s coach Chris Bucknam offered his support.
“I’m conflicted on this because I hate to lose him,” Bucknam said. “For him, he just had to make the decision he had to make. We just wish him the best.”