Paralympic athlete named Daytona 500 honorary race official

January 20, 2014, Staff report,

Blake Leeper is currently training for the 2016 Rio Olympics for Team USA

Paralympic athlete Blake Leeper, also known as the "American Blade Runner" has been selected to serve as the Honorary Race Official for the 56th annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 23 at Daytona International Speedway (FOX, 1 p.m. ET).

Along with being introduced at the driver's meeting, Leeper will also participate in pre-race ceremonies and will ride in one of the honorary race official cars. 

"Blake Leeper is a true inspiration and a legend in the making," Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. "We are honored to have him participate in the pre-race ceremonies at the ‘World Center of Racing’ for the thrilling and historic Daytona 500."

Born with a birth defect that stopped growth below his knees, Leeper was still able to build muscle above the knee and began playing sports when he was five years old. 

It wasn't until 2008, after the Challenged Athlete Foundation offered him a grant for state-of-the-art blade prosthetics that that Leeper started to run intensively. 

Leeper went on to win the silver medal in the 2012 Paralympic Games and the gold medal in the 400m Relay at the IPC Worlds in Lyon, France. 

Currently training for the 2016 Rio Olympics for Team USA, Leeper will become the first American double-amputee to compete in the Olympic Games.