Newsday—New York—November 11, 2006
Todd Philpott, an Australian amputee and inspiration to many wounded U.S. war veterans, had hoped to beat his own world record en route to winning his third consecutive handcycling title in the 2006 New York City Marathon, on his 49th birthday.
But Philpott's goals went awry when his handcycle flipped over just before the Pulaski Bridge in Brooklyn, halfway through the 26.2-mile race.
Ignoring excruciating pain in his right hip, just above where the former bodybuilding champion's right leg was amputated in 1992, Philpott refused the urging of police officers to quit.
His motivation? The same as since he lost his leg in a traffic accident in Sydney, and the same as he tells soldiers who have lost limbs while fighting in Iraq: "I just try to focus on what I can do with what I got left."
Dr. Geoffrey Westrich, an orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery, said he typically extends a patient's ankle and foot to realign a fractured hip, which allows him to make sure it stays in place before surgery. Because of Philpott's amputation, however, Westrich compensated by drilling a traction pin in the residual leg and attaching it to the table.
The surgeon said swelling will keep Philpott from using his prosthesis for weeks, and it will be another month after that before he can put his full weight on it without the help of a walker.
"Then he can do everything he wants to do," Westrich said.
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