Tony Volpetest, born without hands or feet, is a four-time gold medalist and two-time world record holder at the Paralympics, as well as a five-time World Champion Sprinter. 

His new book, Fastest Man in the World, outlines his accomplishments of overcoming the challenges faced throughout his career. Ross Perot is a good friend of his and helped write the forward.


Chapter 1: Flying in Formation 

Time had slowed to a heartbeat. It was just like in the movies, where you can hear every beat of a butterfly’s wings as it lands on a blade of grass, or a drop of sweat trickling until it lands with a “plop” on the pavement. Your senses are so heightened that you can hear not only your own heartbeat but also that of the person next to you.

I focused. Butterflies in my stomach swirled and churned to get out. I took a deep breath and, like I had done so many times before, imagined the butterflies calming to fly in formation. Breathe in . . . breathe out. The butterflies settled and started flying together. I focused on my breathing.

But the noise—the cheering, clapping, stomping of thousands of people—drummed in my ears. Focus . . . breathe . . . focus, I told myself. Then a sort of tunnel vision overcame me; it was like I was going into a cocoon and everything became silent except for my own breathing and heartbeat.

In a clarifying moment I heard the words of my mother, Betty, ring in my ears. It was the phrase I had heard so many times before, the same ones she uttered on the day I was born. “If there was any doubt about our mission in life, there is no doubt now.”

Tony VolpetestI was snapped out of my reverie by the pop of the starting pis–tol. Adrenaline rushed through my body and up to my head and I catapulted my body forward, forcing my legs to pump ahead with every ounce of strength and energy I had. I still did not hear the screams, the cheers of encouragement. I was utterly focused. Now that I was up and moving, I kept my body low, pushing for–ward. Because as we all know, a body in motion tends to stay in motion . . . and I wasn’t going anywhere but forward as fast as was humanly possible. I felt my torso extend as I transitioned out of my crouch and pushed against the ground beneath me.

Blood pounded in my ears. It was like I was flying ahead, and with every step I emerged further from my tunnel vision. I began to hear the people again. The large crowd was raging. My hearing snapped back as if I had just taken out earplugs. Even as I sensed the tension and expectation around me, I felt my body hit its final gear. There was no stopping me . . . I flew by everyone else, leaving them in my wake.

In an instant it was over.

I wanted to collapse to the ground and cry; at the same time I wanted to wave and smile and laugh and scream. I did it . . . did what I came to do . . . did what I came to prove. This was not just a dream—this was real.

For me there has never been a question of my mission in life; I feel I’ve known it since the day I was born.

The race I’d just run was over, but what had started as a flame burning brightly inside me had just become an inferno, for I had more to prove—and would for the rest of my life.

Tony VolpetestAbout The Author:

Born without hands or feet, Tony Volpentest made his international debut as a 17-year-old, winning three golds at the 1990 World Championships.

Tony Volpentest is a four-time Gold Medalist and five-time World Champion sprinter (he carried the Olympic flame at the 1996 Olympics) and still holds 3 world records and now works with others pursuing Gold, and speaks to audiences around the world on the importance of excelling in pushing beyond perceived limits and renewing determination.

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