Since graduating from Fisher in 2013 with a finance degree, Blake Haxton has been busy. He’s earned a law degree from the Moritz College of Law, passed the second level of the Chartered Financial Analyst exam and works on the investment research team at Diamond Hill Capital Management.

He’s also a 2016 U.S. Paralympian.

Blake Haxton 2 cropHaxton, whose journey to Rio has been inspiring, will compete as part of the U.S. Paralympic Rowing Team in the men’s arms and shoulders single sculls. Before leaving for Rio for September’s games, Haxton shared his thoughts on competing in the biggest event of his athletic life, his journey and the legions of supporters behind him.

Describe your emotions leading up to, and immediately after qualifying for the U.S. National team?
I was so focused on qualifying that I didn’t really spend any time considering what it would be like to actually make the team. Once I had made it and it began to sink in that I would get to represent the United States in an international race, it was the proudest moment of my athletic life.

What are some of your personal goals for competing in Rio?
My goal is to make the Medal final, which is a single race with six boats. If I can qualify to get into that race and have the chance to give it my best to go after a medal, no matter how it ends I’ll consider the trip a success.

Where does making the U.S. Paralympic team rank in terms of accomplishment in your life?
I tend to believe that my greatest accomplishments are the relationships I’ve been fortunate enough to build with some truly great people. That said, it’s certainly the greatest athletic achievement of my life, and it’s made all the better because so many of those great people have been instrumental in making it possible.

How has the support of your friends and family (including your Ohio State family) made a difference in your journey?
Buckeyes say often that “you win with people.” It’s fair to say that in my journey to the Paralympics that rowing has been peripheral and the community has been central. Rowing has been the expression, but I feel very strongly that the important parts of story are the people that have come with me.

Given everything that you’ve gone through, are you surprised by all that you’ve accomplished, both in athletics and in education?
Every day. I’m constantly surprised to find myself in the situations I’m in. I don’t know how I got so lucky to be able to have the education, the athletic opportunities and the relationships that I do. But I’m so grateful for them.

Watch Blake discuss his journey from adversity to accomplishment at Ohio State and on the water.