CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It took Dan Clarkson about a year and a half to walk after a 2006 motorcycle wreck, even though doctors said his chances of that were slim.
Now the former Kanawha County sheriff's deputy is defying the odds again -- this time at a national disabled athletes competition.
Clarkson took top honors in all of his events -- discus, shot put and club (a throwing device for disabled athletes) -- and might have set records in all three throwing events at the Thunder in the Valley Games in Saginaw, Mich., last week.
"It was great," Clarkson said. "I thoroughly enjoyed it."
He was part of a team of seven West Virginia athletes who competed in the event, held May 30-June 2.
In all, the West Virginia team members set 12 national records and were champions of the small-team competition.
"We knew [Clarkson] and the other athletes had tremendous potential," said Jeremiah Gagnon, recreational therapist at Charleston Area Medical Center's medical rehabilitation center and chairman of the Challenged Sports Committee. "How much? Well, I guess it's up to them. We'll give them the opportunity."
Besides Clarkson, the local team members were James Cowie III, Wesley Dorcas, Mike Fielder, Fawn Washington, George Jackson and Charles Keiffer.
Gagnon said that since 1992, 11 West Virginians have held 19 national records for challenged athletes.
"In my theory, it's just the character of the people here," Gagnon said. "When you look at the people of West Virginia, the people who came to settle here, they were fiercely independent people."
There is one more official national event this year before the records are published for the year in January. The athletes will officially know then if their records for the year held or if they were beaten.