WINFIELD, W.Va. -- George Jackson has been hand cycling for about a year -- about the same amount of time it's been since his right leg was amputated.
Last month, for the first time, Jackson, 69, attended the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Richmond, Va. He won a silver medal in the 10-kilometer race.
"There were about 80 cyclists, my division had 40," Jackson said. "It was amazing to see so many veterans participating -- that many people doing that many things out of a wheelchair -- there were over 800."
Now, he's getting ready to participate in next year's games, which will be held in Tampa, Fla.
His success at the games probably wouldn't surprise those closest to Jackson, who played quarterback for the Bluefield State College football team for four years. When therapists at the VA Medical Center in Huntington introduced him to hand cycling, he caught on quick.
"I like doing it, it's challenging and it keeps me active. It's something I can do on my own ... I just put [the bike] in the back of my car and head to the track," he said.
VA staff members are having a hand cycling bike made on a stand so Jackson can practice during the winter months. It should be ready in about five weeks.
Hand cycling isn't easy. Cyclists manually crank the wheels with their hands. There aren't any handlebars to help steer. To turn, they have to lean to the left or the right.
"You have to learn how to do it, you just don't jump in and ride," he said.
Jackson, though, is used to learning how to adapt. After being drafted into the U.S. Army immediately after graduating from Bluefield State, Jackson was hit by mortar fire in Vietnam.
"I messed my right leg up pretty bad," he recalled. "They told me I probably wouldn't walk again, but I went right on into work."