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Aug 21, 2013 11:12 AM by Ryan Haarer

Tucson man becomes world champion despite missing a leg

TUCSON- In 1999 Gerard Ah-Fook was in the Navy and went out with some friends to go water skiing. In an instant his life changed. A boat ran him over, testing his will to survive.

"I was told I died on the OR table twice," said a now healthy and buff Ah-Fook.

Gerard miraculously pulled through without a leg.

"It actually took me a long time to discover that the wheelchair wasn't me. It was not my new identity. I had to swim hours at a time out in the ocean to really discover that."

His love of swimming got him active again. Nurses at the VA got him interested in hand cycling and his mom pushed him to do a triathlon, but, not just any triathlon. He did an Ironman.

"He's got a lot of dedication. He's very determined. He seems to have a really great ability to define his goals and go for them," said his training partner Derek Brown.

Now in Tucson he trains to be the best at his sport. Some call him disabled, but try and keep up and you'll realize he's far from it. He's so fast a team stepped up to sponsor him.

"TriSoldier is the group that got me. That believed in me and said, you know what, we think you can perform and do pretty well in the duathalon championships."

In his second run for a medal at the games in Ottawa, Canada, Gerard rolled away with gold. He's currently the best in the world.

His journey has been anything but easy. He says there were plenty of dark moments and doubt. But, he refused to sit back and let the chair define him.

There's so much that we need to be grateful for. That's what it is. We just got to find those moments that we want to be grateful for. Those moments that we want to smile. The reason why."

These days Gerard has three big reasons to smile. He has three young kids. He says once they are out of diapers, he hopes to become a U of A Wildcat.

For more information on Gerard's sponsor, TriSoldier visit www.trisoldier.org.

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