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Ten years ago, Dennis Ogbe arrived in London with $200, a suitcase and the dream of being a colleg athlete.
He returned to London in August to fulfill a bigger dream — the chance to compete at the 2012 Paralympic games.
Though his trip didn’t end with a trip to the medal stand, Ogbe, a Prospect resident, returned to Oldham County with more than his fair share of memories after representing his newly-adopted country.
One of those include trip to the White House in early September where Ogbe and the rest of the Paralympic team were honored by President Barack Obama.
“I was just full of awe,” Ogbe said. “I wasn’t expecting it but having the president welcome us and tell us ‘good job’ was a good feeling.”
It got even better when the president broke protocol and stayed for more than an hour and a half longer than expected. At one point, Ogbe even got to meet him.
“He made sure he shook hands with everybody and told them ‘well done’,” Ogbe said. “On my own part, he told that he has heard about me and he’s very proud of me representing this country with so much energy and to keep doing what I’m doing.”
As great as that was though, competing in London wasn’t bad either.
“Knowing where I came from and being in the same stadium as the queen of England and all the royals and a crowd of 50,000 people was mind-blowing,” Ogbe said. “I’m still not over it yet and it’s been a couple of weeks.”
A native of Nigeria, Ogbe represented the United States for the first time at the Paralympics since becoming a U.S. citizen in February 2011, competing in both the discus and shot put in the F57/58 category.
Though the trip to England took just 10 hours by plane, his journey has been 34 years in the making.
Ogbe faced his first challenge at 3 years old. After contracting malaria, his concerned family took him to a local clinic for treatment, but a botched shot sent his weakened body into a coma.
Though he regained consciousness a few days later, his weakened immune system came under attack again.
Polio paralyzed him from the waist down.
As he grew, Ogbe eventually regained strength in his right leg, but lingering damage left him with a heavy limp.
He overcame that with the help of childhood friend Masai Uriji, who pushed him to relearn to walk and, later, to play basketball and soccer.
But he found his true talent in a different sport.
A Nigerian government official invited Ogbe to try out for the country’s paralympic team, where a trip to the capital introduced him to track and field. With only powerlifting, discus, shot put and javelin offered, Ogbe opted for the throwing events.
After earning a spot on the Nigerian Paralympic team and competing for his birth country in two separate games, Ogbe began a new chapter in his life with a move to the United States on a athletic scholarship to Bellarmine University. Once there, it didn’t take long before long before dreams of a bigger goal started taking shape.
That dream came to realization on Aug. 31 as Ogbe competed as a United States citizen in the discus throw, capturing a 10th place finish and 802 points with a throw of 47.15 meters. In his second event, the shot put, he grabbed 12th with a throw of 12.84 meters.
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