RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — At the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro this weekend, Livingston native Michael Wishnia will be the first graduate of Livingston High School to represent the United States in an Olympic event since the 1950s.
Wishnia, a U.S. Marine Corps sergeant who was seriously wounded in Iraq and again in Afghanistan, where his leg was badly injured, recorded the second-longest shot put throw earlier this summer and qualified to represent his country on Team USA’s Paralympic Track and Field team in Rio on Saturday, Sept. 17. According to his father, Bernard Wishnia, Michael has every opportunity to medal in his event.
“What an incredible honor it is to have our son selected for Team USA and compete in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio,” said Linda Wishnia, Michael’s mother. “Michael has worked extremely hard and the hard work has certainly paid off. We are so very proud of Michael and his accomplishments. Regardless of the outcome, Michael is a winner.”
In Feb. 2014, after being placed in the Wounded Warrior Battalion for rehabilitation, Michael competed for the first time in the Marine Corp Trials and went on to win the US National Championship in both shot put and discus in June 2014. In May of 2015, the US Olympic Committee selected Michael as the “Outstanding Male Olympic Athlete of the Month,” a monthly honor that included all Olympians.
Eventually, according to his parents, Michael hopes to develop a career as an inspirational speaker, assisting other injured service members in order to help prevent veteran suicides. Bernard said that being on Team USA in Rio gives Michael a certain ability to get people’s attention and that Michael is determined not to waste it.
“When he came back from Afghanistan, he was married and had a kid, but really he was in a very bad place psychologically,” said Bernard. “His leg was messed up, he was never going to be able to use it again properly, he can’t run, he can’t walk stairs. He had a lot of friends who died and he was just not in a good place. This Paralympics has given him a completely new outlook on life and has really changed the direction of his life.”
Michael’s event will be live-streamed on Saturday at 9 a.m. Eastern time. Click HERE to watch.
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