Originally aired on Local 12 - June 18, 2021
Austin Osner was born without his right arm due to a condition known as amniotic band syndrome.
But when he was 10, he watched an exhibit of disabled veterans displaying martial arts.
The Fairfield teenager was hooked.
"I remember seeing that first event and I thought ‘wow, I can do that, as well,’ which made me only want to try and be as good as I can,” Osner said. “And it was inspiring to watch them do something that I could do."
Fast forward five years.
The now 15-year-old Austin recently won a bronze medal in Taekwondo at the Pan Am Paralympic Games in Cancun, Mexico. He entered the tournament as an unseeded unknown.
"I never wanted to use my missing arm as an excuse. It was always, I wanted to be like everyone else. So that's what I competed like and what I put my mindset on."
He routinely competed against non-disabled athletes coming up, but is now focusing on the Paralympic division against others without arms.
His mother Kristin McGinn was a nervous wreck when Austin started the rough and tumble sport. She says she couldn’t even take pictures or videos early on because her hands were shaking so much.
Now she's fully behind him.
"This you know says you're unstoppable,” she said. “The only obstacle in your way is yourself. You can do anything you set your mind to."
Austin turns 16 in two months and he's set to become a junior at Ohio Virtual Academy, an online charter school in Ohio. Working remotely has allowed him to keep his busy schedule, which included a training trip to Michigan this weekend.
His next goal: to make the U.S. National Paralympic team and compete against the world at the 2024 Paralympics in Paris.
"Getting to step up on that world stage and achieving my dreams would be big and to inspire other people just like people inspired me," he said.
Austin’s coach Brad DeMinck, who runs the Lakeshore Taekwondo Academy in Grand Haven, Michigan, says he has a great shot of making it that far. DeMinck also coaches another Paralympic Taekwondo athlete who is ranked number one in the world in the heavyweight division.
For more information about Ohio Virtual Academy, please visit ohva.k12.com