Local Paralympic athlete shines

COLUMBIA (WACH) - He's the world's fastest paralympic athlete, Jerome Singleton earning that title last month taking gold in the 100 meter race. Singleton became a single amputee after being born with a birth defect.

"My parents never treated my differently and my friends never took it easy on me when I was growing up, I was playing sports since I was five."

Singleton played strong safety on the Dutch Fork High School football team. He says hitting people, not intercepting passes was his favorite moment on the gridiron. Singleton knew it was important for him to stay active.

"When I grew up, I knew that health was necessary when it comes to being disabled, if a person is not active, there's a 40% chance they may not go out and get a job or better themselves. I knew it was paramount."

University of South Carolina track coach Curtis Frye trained Singleton for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, where Singleton won a silver medal. He says it was a dream to coach Singleton because he wanted to be challenged.

"He taught me that working with a Paralympics athlete was no different than working with an athlete and I had to grow a bit because I never had that experience," says Frye. "It was the most wonderful thing I ever had."

Singleton says he's proof that living with a disability is a blessing, not necessarily a curse.

"When people become disabled, they feel that their life ended. It's just another beginning. You have to look at your disability as a chance to overcome some obstacles."

Singleton plans on participating in the 2012 Paralympics.