After a 16-year break from the sport, US discus thrower David Blair came back with a vengeance in February 2015 and by October that year was a world silver medallist.
Eighteen months after his return, the Utah-based athlete won Paralympic gold at Rio 2016, with a stunning world record of 64.11m. Months prior to Rio, he threw 63.61m – breaking teammate Jeremy Campbell’s four-year-old world record – to underline his credentials as a gold medal contender at his first Paralympics.
Blair, who has club foot, started throwing at junior high school; his aim was to win a scholarship to fund him through college. By the time he was in high school, the teenager was making his mark - in 1993 he won the Utah State Championships.
College and freshman records followed – in the hammer, discus and indoor weight. By the time he graduated from Weber State University in 1999, Blair was throwing over 54 metres – just a few metres shy of the mark that would have enabled him to compete at the Olympic Trials.
After getting married and starting a family, Blair gave up athletics due to severe arthritis on both sides of his foot, establishing his career as a database programmer.
Then in 2012, Blair was watching South African Oscar Pistorius race at the London Olympics. It got him thinking about Para athletics. But Blair could not find any Para athletics record of the hammer throw - his favourite event - and the idea slipped away.
Then in February 2015 he decided to give it another try, throwing 55m at his first collegiate meeting.
Further personal information
Sport specific information
After winning a high school state championship in the discus throw against able-bodied athletes, he received an athletic scholarship to Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. He quit the discus after university, but in 2015 he discovered that he was eligible to compete at the Paralympic Games, and returned to the sport after 16 years away. "I had no idea that my limb deficiency would have qualified me for the Paralympics. I still remember how bad the pain was on my very last meet in college." (teamusa.org, 06 Nov 2020, 19 Sep 2016)
He has a long-term affiliation with the Eagle Scout troop, having been a scout, scoutmaster, and committee chairman among other roles. "It was every Wednesday, and we always went to the scout camps, earned the merit badges that we needed to and put in my time on my own to make sure that I got the requirements done. I still remember the pain my foot I had the morning after a long, 20-mile hike at Camp Loll. I was not much use for walking the next day but still went out on all the activities and if they needed to wait for me, they did. No complaining from them. I think now more than ever, this generation of young men need something like scouting to get them out from in front of their screens, learning hands-on about new things and seeing new places that they have never been and would not have been otherwise." (blog.scoutingmagazine.org, 14 Sep 2016)
|Men's Discus Throw F44||Final 1||2015-10-22||2|
|Men's Shot Put F44||Final 1||2015-10-27||3|
|Men's Discus Throw F44||Final Round||2016-09-16||1|
|Men's Discus Throw F44||Final 1||2017-07-16||2|