David Prince celebrates after the men's 200-meter T64 final at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 25, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
While battling a tight hamstring, two-time Paralympian David Prince shaved nearly a second off his preliminary time to win the bronze medal in the men’s 200-meter T64 race at the World Para Athletics Championships Saturday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Prince’s sharp 22.59 seconds in the 200, after running it in 23.49 in Friday’s preliminary round, represents a return to power in the sprint event for the 36-year-old. He took world silver in the event in 2013 but hasn’t made a world or Paralympic Games medal podium in the 200 since.
“Honestly my hamstring has been bothering me since the beginning of June, so I’m surprised I even made it here,” he said, still catching his breath. “Super thrilled about making it on the podium.”
Ronald Hertog of the Netherlands won on Saturday in 22.20 seconds, edging Michail Seitis of Greece by 0.03. The same margin separated Prince and fourth-place finisher Kevan Hueftle of the U.S. in the 34-year-old red angus rancher from Nebraska’s first appearance at a world championships.
"Kevan was right there,” Prince said, “I felt him breathing down my neck.”
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Former 100-meter world champion and three-time Paralympian Jerome Singleton, who covered the distance in 23.09, was sixth.
Prince, the son of missionaries who spent much of his childhood in Oaxaca, Mexico, had his right leg amputated below the knee after he crashed his motorcycle when he was 18, an accident that also left him with a traumatic head injury. That led him to track and field, where he has thrived at distances from 100 to 400.
Prince’s best results in recent years have most often come in the 400, where he owns a bronze medal from the Paralympic Games London 2012 and bronzes at the world championships in 2011 and 2013. He was also sixth in the 400 at the 2017 world championships.
Meanwhile, Prince finished sixth in the 200 at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and seventh at the following year’s world championships. He's also won two world silver medals in the 4x100.
He said he considered quitting the sport in the past year amidst a divorce and other personal challenges but ultimately found himself back and fighting for a world title.
“I’m 36, I’m old, I’m hurting and this last year proved that God just doesn’t want me out of it,” he said. “I’ve tried working jobs and being a normal person, but he’s always closed those doors and opened these. I'm really thankful to be here.”
Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.