Jason Sturm has done much to raise the profile of adaptive training and adaptive sports played by amputees. The Herndon, Virginia, resident, who in 2002 lost his left leg below the knee in an army training exercise, is a world champion bobsledder and a CrossFit trainer for amputee and non-amputee clients.
“I’d like to start a nonprofit that builds custom sports prosthetics, Sturm says. “If you are an above-the-knee amputee who wants to get into Olympic weightlifting, let’s design a knee that doesn’t just collapse when it thinks you are trying to sit down.”
Sturm, 38, whose leg was blown off by two misdirected 105mm shells that also killed two soldiers, uses himself as an example.
“They build legs for running and custom legs for bicycling, but the leg I use for weightlifting and the other stuff I’m doing was originally designed for snowboarding,” Sturm says. “I’m using it way beyond the capacity it was intended for, and I’m doing it at my own risk. But it gives me the movement at the bottom of my leg I need.”
Sturm, a married father of two, put that leg to the test in November 2014 at the start of the World Cup para-bobsledding season. He hopes the expanded five-race season prompts the sport’s inclusion in the 2018 Winter Paralympics in South Korea.
“I was instantly hooked,” he says of bobsledding, which he took up on a whim when the U.S. para-bobsledding team advertised for members.
“Just because you don’t have an arm or a leg doesn’t mean you’re not able to do these things. You just have to reset your mindset.”