Oksana Masters and Rob Jones win historic Paralympic bronze medal

By Jamie Blanchard and Allison Fredrick | Dec. 24, 2012, 12 p.m. (ET)

Highlighted by the London 2012 Paralympic Games, called the greatest Games ever by International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven, 2012 was a thrilling year for the Paralympic Movement in the United States and around the globe. Records were broken and legacies were made. From Dec. 20-31, USParalympics.org will unveil the Top 12 moments of 2012 for U.S. Paralympics in chronological order.

Oksana Masters and Rob Jones
At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Oksana Masters and Rob Jones won the first U.S. medal in the trunk and arms mixed double sculls event.

Only two years after he was injured while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan, Rob Jones and partner Oksana Masters became the first Americans to win a Paralympic medal in the trunk and arms mixed double sculls event. On Sept. 2 at Eton Dorney, the site of the rowing competition for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the U.S. crew came back from a sixth place start to secure the bronze medal.

"I promised not to cry," said Masters (Louisville, Ky.), a bilateral above-knee amputee adopted from the Ukraine at 7 years old. "I feel pretty amazing. Oh my God I thought we came fourth, I had no idea. I am speechless, this is unreal. We have been together less than a year."

China won gold in 3:57.63, with France taking silver in 4:03.06. The U.S. crew was in sixth place at the start, but they worked their way through the field, crossing the line in 4:05.56 to edge out Great Britain by 0.21 seconds.

"My body hurts," Jones (Lovettsville, Va.)  said. "I couldn't really tell where we were at the end. We just sprinted and pulled out everything we had. We just couldn't quite catch France. I knew we were pretty close in the last 600 meters. I knew that was the time to empty the bank account of all the work we have been doing over the last year to get the bronze. Thankfully that was enough."

London marked the first Paralympic Games for both. 

Jones, a U.S. Marine Sergeant who became a bilateral above knee amputee in July of 2010 when he stepped on a landmine during a patrol with his unit, was named the USRowing Man of the Year. The award, which he received in December, is given in recognition of outstanding contributions to men’s rowing or to an outstanding man in rowing

“Rob Jones is such a unique story in American rowing that it warrants man of the year,” said USRowing Chief Executive Officer Glenn Merry. “An athlete, a Marine and a Paralympian, Rob came to rowing relatively late in the game. His accomplishments on the field of play during the past year, from qualifying the trunk and arms mixed double to winning a bronze at the Paralympics, is remarkable, as is his personal story in how he came to become an adaptive athlete. Congratulations to Rob on his fantastic accomplishments."

Masters received the USRowing Female Athlete of the Year award, marking the first time an adaptive rower has been selected for one of USRowing's Athlete of the Year honors.

"I am shocked and honored," Masters said of the award. "There are so many amazing athletes out there. This is such an honor. My Paralympic experience in London was amazing and I was sad to see it end. I was proud to be part of the Paralympics and part of Team USA. It was an indescribable feeling – everything I have ever dreamed of and more."