U.S. paralympian testing Montana-made running blades before Toky - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

U.S. paralympian testing Montana-made running blades before Tokyo 2020

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MISSOULA - A five-time national champion and U.S. paralympian is testing out a Montana-made running blade ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

Regas Woods made his way from Florida to Missoula to try out a custom running blade that was made by local company Aerobionix.

As a kid, Woods was told he'd never be a runner. He was born with a congenital anomaly that prevented two bones in both of his legs from developing properly. At age 2, his mother made a decision no parent would ever want to have to make - choosing to amputate both of his legs.

But this didn't prevent Woods from doing anything anyone else would do - he says he just did things a little differently and exceeded all expectations.

Now, he's training for his second Paralympic Games.

When competing, he wears special running blades, which are different from the prosthetic legs he uses to walk around every day.

Woods says finding the right running blade is key because it gives him the stability and momentum he needs to run at his greatest speed.

Woods competes in the 200-meter sprint and the long jump. He's currently the fastest bi-lateral amputee above the knee in the United States, and the fourth fastest in the world in the 200-meter.

"I'm getting bigger, better, faster, stronger and now we're venturing off to trying different prosthetics and running blades that will fit my needs," he says.

Woods looks for a durable and strong blade that responds well and doesn't stay on the ground too long, giving him that forward momentum. To find the right one, he does a series of tests and collects data with a video camera.

"How much time am I staying on the ground, how much time am I in the air, all of that," he says. "How fast I'm going at certain parts of the race. It's a lot. It doesn't happen in one day."

Woods flew out to Missoula to try the unique running blades made by Missoula-based company Aerobionix. He just might use them in his next international competition.

Patrick Halseth, a technician at Aerobionix, says it would be amazing to see his product used in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

"I can't even wrap my head around it at this point," Halseth says. "Seeing Regas do what we does, even in this limited testing phase, is just amazing."

Aerobionix just started producing running blades in February.

In his upcoming competitions, Woods wants to prove to the world that anything is possible, even as a bilateral amputee.

"Bring it, is all I'm saying. Don't sing it. Bring it," Woods says.

Woods also started his own charity with his friend Nick Stilwell called the Never Say Never Foundation. They donate running blades to children who can't afford them, and he says they're on track to donate their 100th running blade this year.

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