Saskatchewan's Janz Stein turns tragic accident into Paralympic dream
Stein's leg was removed below the knee following a dirt biking accident
For any athlete, the road to the top of their sport is a difficult one. But for Regina's Janz Stein, it's been an exceptional challenge filled with tragedy, as well as new hope.
Stein used to be a mixed martial arts fighter. But in 2011, he shattered his left leg in a dirt bike accident. Two years later, the leg was removed below the knee and his MMA career was over.
"For the first little while, [it was] a little bit weird, obviously, a lot of mental stuff goes on in your mind," Stein said. "You learn to do things. You learn to adapt. I'm pretty stubborn."
Armed with that stubborn streak, Stein decided he still needed a competitive outlet.
Just over a year ago, he began training for track and field events. Never lacking confidence, the quick results surprised even Stein. He's already ranked in the top 20 in the world in the 100-metre sprint and long jump.
"So just a year and two months and who would have thought I could run fast and jump far?" he said.
Now, Stein believes he can qualify for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Part of that preparation is two weeks at the Olympic training centre in San Diego and other international events.
In order to raise the money required, Stein has set up a GoFundMe page.
"Things get expensive," he said. "There's a lot of track meets coming up, you know, in other countries and something that I cannot afford as an athlete."
While Stein is not assured a spot in Rio yet, he said he'll keep training and raising money in an effort to turn a tragic accident into a victory lap on the world stage.