by Brian Ansley
Spartans have always been known for their “Warrior Spirit” and their willingness to face adversity no matter what obstacle they faced. That “spirit” persists in many of our athletes across Spartan Nation. One who recently caught our attention was 26 year old Matt Smith from Atlanta, Georgia. Matt will be participating in the Georgia Spartan Sprint in March 2012. The only difference is he will not be running the course like everyone else. Matt will be conquering the entire race on crutches!
Matt Smith was born with a birth defect known as, Spinal Bifida. He’s maintained a positive outlook and willingness to educate about his condition. “My main goal in life is to promote awareness about the disabled community. We are just as capable as able bodied people.” In fact, this is the very reason Matt is participating in the Georgia Spartan Sprint next year.
He went on to say, “Disabled people don’t need help with everything.”
Matt first discovered Spartan Race on Facebook. He thought, “I will give it a shot!” This will be his first obstacle race. However, he is not new to the racing community, nor to competition. He participated in the wheel chair races in the Special Olympics when he was younger. Matt is also an exceptional marksman. He has been participating in competitive shooting for 10 years now. He was a member of the shooting team for North Atlanta High School’s ROTC program for 3 years, and also reached the rank of 1st Lieutenant. Additionally, Matt was a member of the Shepherd Spinal Center Shoot Team in Atlanta, Georgia. The Shepherd Spinal Center Shoot team achieved national rankings three times. In 2007 Matt individually ranked 3rd in the country!
Currently, Matt is studying at Georgia Perimeter College to become a Physical Therapist. When he is not in school, Matt is continuing to compete as a marksman five or so matches a year.
He is excited about his upcoming race in March 2012, and said, “I’m not competing against anybody but myself.” However, this Spartan does have a training plan set in motion. “I’m working on my upper body strength, and walking up to 10 miles.”
Matt may have a few friends coming out to support him from his Church. “Hopefully I can get them to do the course with me”, he added.
I asked about Matt’s optimistic approach to life, and his new adventure. He was quick to tell me what would inspire him over the coming months, “I’m very grateful for my aunt BJ Haroen.”
He explained that his Aunt Haroen was, “Diagnosed with diabetes and that never slowed her down. She told me to never let my disability slow me down either…just think of myself as a regular person.”
We look forward to Matt taking on the challenges of the Georgia Sprint! We also wish him luck in finding his Spartan Finish Line and his Spartan finisher medal!