Alexander Triput won gold in the javelin competition for visually impaired athletes at the 2004 Athens Games, and just missed the podium when he took fourth in Beijing four years later. But making it to these Games has been his toughest challenge, as he suffered a severe spine injury three years ago.
Alexander Triput became an inspiration in his native Belarus by winning a gold medal in the javelin at the 2004 Athens Paralympics. But his silver in the pentathlon was perhaps even more stirring, as he completed the event with a fractured heel bone. He says his supporters gave him the motivation to keep going back then, and continue to fuel his drive to reach the podium again in Rio de Janeiro.
"It is very nice that people support me. In my opinion, I will have the best support in the world. Not just in Belarus, but in the whole world. I can see that everyone is nervous for me, so I don't want to let anybody down," Alexander Triput said.
The visually impaired Triput has already exceeded expectations, however, by simply qualifying for Rio. After narrowly missing the medal stand in Beijing in 2008, a leg injury kept him from competing in London four years ago. Then on April 23rd, 2013, he fell from the fourth floor of a building while repairing a television antenna.
The impact fractured his spinal column, forced him to undergo five excruciating surgeries, and left him in a wheelchair. But with the support of several Olympic athletes from Belarus, as well as some of the country's top international football figures, he resumed his quest to reach another Paralympics -- all with the knowledge that returning to the podium will be a tough task.
"At the Paralympics, there are many strong athletes. There is competition. There are impressive results. The world record in Alexander's group was set at the European Championships, so the competition will be very serious," said Valery Orlov, Triput's coach.
But Triput will have the cheers of an entire stadium to spur him on, as he was named the flag bearer for Belarus, during the team's send off to Rio. And he hopes the excitement of the Opening Ceremony can carry him all the way through to another Paralympic medal winning performance.