It all started with a soccer game, said world record-holder and UM track team member, Dan Andrews.
“There was a breakaway. A man passed our defense and tried to score. I tried to stop him by sliding out but he slid into my leg,” he said.
Dan’s left leg was instantly broken-broken so badly that the muscles began to swell, preventing his blood from circulating.
Doctors were forced to amputate.
At the young age of 14, Dan Andrews knew immediately that his life would change forever.
Doctors were initially very skeptical about Dan’s sports career. The incision they made on his leg took a long time to heal and made it difficult for him to walk about freely.
“The first two-month period was the hardest, I became frustrated at how slowly time was passing,” Dan said.
And not only was time passing, but the possibility of Dan’s future in sports was fading as well.
Being a true sportsman and soccer fan, Dan’s first words to the doctor after his operation were: “Will I ever play soccer again?”
He was, in fact, able to adjust to his new leg.
Instead of taking his doctor’s advice by waiting an entire year to get back in the game, Dan only waited for a couple of months before beginning practice again.
He soon began walking, then running, and finally training, but it wasn’t until he attended the Para Pan-Am Games in Mexico City that Dan realized his track career beginning to unfold.
“My senior year in high school I had my first big international meet at the Para Pan-Am Games in Mexico City. That meet made me decide I wanted to get back into track. I had a really good time,” he said.
Before that event, Dan only ran at the local track meets.
However, since then, Dan has raked in a lot of attention.
In Sydney, Australia, Dan recently broke the world record for the para 800-meter circuit.
Soon after, he beat his time at Florida International University.
Furthermore, Dan is the only amputee that’s competed in a Division I track level.
“I race against everyone,” Dan says, “not just amputees.”
Most of all, however, Dan races against himself.
“I beat my personal best in two out of my last three races for the 800M. I can also run faster than what I used to, but I haven’t been able to put a solid race together yet,” he said.
Because of Dan’s unwavering spirit, he’s also received a lot of attention from TV networks as well.
Recently HBO hung out with Dan for the weekend at his house and followed him around for an upcoming segment called HBO Real Sports.
Dan said that he was never, “really planning on running here.”
When he came back from Sydney he asked if he could train with the team.
The coaches got together and Coach Ward said he should come along.
“He gave me a chance to not only train with the team but to run with the team as well.” Dan said. “I was pretty pumped and surprised when I heard that – not many people get a chance to compete in a division one school; it’s a big honor.”
“Before I met Dan the coach told me there’s a new 800 [meter] guy that’s going to kick my ass,” said fellow UM distance runner, Matthew Mulvaney.
“People wouldn’t think you’d participate in a sport, especially running, after that. And the kid just bounced back,” he said.
“Dan’s unbelievably fast. He’s an incredible athlete,” said another team member, Billy Bludgus.
While Dan is receiving a lot attention for overcoming a series of adversities, he still manages to remain humble.
“I like being the underdog,” Dan says, “I’m not big into the whole publicity thing. I just enjoy running with my teammates – they offer me no special treatment. I like that.”