Meet the Olympian: April Holmes

Holmes (center) won gold in the women's 100 meters at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing.

As part of Metro’s ongoing coverage leading up to the 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games in London, we’re introducing readers to the athletes who will be representing the United States. Previously: fencer Daryl Homer, gymnast Aly Raisman, swimmer Ryan Lochte, distance-runner Molly Huddle, equestrian Karen O’Connor, marathoner Ryan Hall and wrestler Jordan Burroughs.

It would take most people months, if not years, to bounce back from a devastating injury, but Paralympic athlete April Holmes knew within two weeks of losing her leg that she wanted to represent the U.S. as a serious competitor on the track.

In 2001, Holmes was involved in a train accident that forced doctors to amputate her left leg below the knee. A life-long basketball player, she was overwhelmed by the amputation and initially feared her days in sports were over.

“I thought I would never be able to run or play basketball again, and I had done that since I was 5-years-old and it had brought joy into my life,” Holmes told Metro. “To wake up and know I’d never play again, it was devastating.”

She credits her surgeon, Dr. William Delong, with planting the idea in her mind to embrace her new body and turn a disability into an incredible ability in athletics. Less than two weeks after her amputation, Delong was bringing her magazines about the Paralympic Games.

“Before that, I never knew about it,” Holmes said. “For him to give me these, I thought he was crazy. But as I searched through the magazines, I learned a whole lot about prosthetic devices.”

From there, a dream was born. Not only did Holmes decide she wanted to become a Paralympic athlete, she had made up her mind that she would be the best.  

“I had to go to rehab and get a leg,” Holmes said. “I definitely wanted to be able to represent the U.S. and be the best in the world, and have gold medals.”

And that’s exactly what Holmes did. By 2002, she was training for a career in Paralympic track & field. Proving to be a dominating force in her sport, she went on to set world records in the 100, 200 and 400 meters.

At the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, she won bronze in the women’s long jump. At the 2008 games in Beijing, she took home gold in the women’s 100 meters.

Holmes has spent the last year training in Florida, where up to six hours of her day was spent on the track in preparation of her third trip to the Paralympic Games, this time in London.
 
“The stress doesn’t go away, but it builds excitement knowing you are going to a different city and seeing the venues you will compete at,” Holmes said. “You go in with expectations of being the greatest and coming away with gold, so the stress doesn’t go away, but you adapt.”

Her dedication is inspiring both on and off the track. When she isn’t training, she’s providing scholarships and medical equipment to disabled people through her non-profit the April Holmes Foundation.

When asked what keeps her motivated, Holmes said it’s as simple as the moment a national anthem is played at the end of a race.

“Would you rather hear yours or that of another country?” she said. “That’s always a motivation for me.”  



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Local

MAP: New York City street closures, September 19,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on September 19, 20 and 21. There will be many streets and…

Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 6, 'Start…

The sixth episode of "The Knick" brings some bombshells but is mostly dedicated to isolated and usually fun one-off scenes.

Television

'Outlander' Season 1, Episode 7: 'The Wedding'

Claire and Jamie are man and wife!!! Like, ALL THE WAY, if you know what we mean. (Twice.)

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

How motherhood inspired Bethenny Frankel's new book

Bethenny Frankel's new children's book is about how her daughter and dog didn't always get alone.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…