Blind military veteran represents Team USA at World Championships
Rock Hill, S.C. - This story is about a man you probably wouldn't expect to see riding a bicycle - much less competing on one.
He's a blind military veteran from Mooresville who will be representing the United States in a world championship race.
FOX 46 caught up with him and his fellow athletes at the Velodrome in Rock Hill.
"I always had a passion for cycling, but once I was diagnosed with the eye disease, I knew that racing a bike wasn't going to be a possibility," Chester Triplett said.
"I'm essentially the eyes and the legs on the front. Really, once we get going, I almost forget he's on the back because we're so in sync," Kyle Knott explained.
Chester and Kyle make up a tandem bike para-cycling team. Kyle in front and Chester in the back. Chester says he was active duty in the U.S. Army when he started to lose his sight.
"Facial recognition is really tough for me. I can't drive a motor vehicle anymore," Chester said.
He and Kyle are two of 18 athletes who were selected to represent team USA in March at the para-cycling track world championships in Italy.
"It's a big thing to represent your country. To go to a world championship, you're carrying the weight of your country," said Kyle.
Another athlete joined them on the Velodrome. Jason Kimball is a national para-cycling champion who is also heading to Italy.
"My injuries aren't obvious, so many times it's hard for people to see it," Jason said.
Kimball says he was training for Special Forces when he fell 20 feet and broke his spine.
"As a military veteran, once my career ended, I didn't know what to do with my life. I sat on the couch recovering surgery after surgery. Having a goal again was something that was very important to me," Jason said.
For all three athletes, para-cycling helped find that purpose and set those goals.
"You got to find ways to overcome those obstacles. Whether it's learning how to use a magnifier or adapt to not driving a motor vehicle. You just can't quit," Chester said.
Chester, Kyle, and Jason will be traveling to California next week for additional training and then will head to Italy for the world championships in mid-March.