Dreaming Big

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Dreaming Big

Dreaming Big

Justin Phongsavanh is no ordinary local resident. He’s a Paralympian. A Paralympic bronze medalist and world record javelin thrower who now calls Henry County home. But how did this man, born and raised in the Midwest, make his way to Georgia? “The reason why I picked Georgia is I could not do snow anymore,” says Phongsavanh. He also had other reasons for picking his new home. “I found Henry County to be very optimal. I love my city and the community. It has everything you can imagine.” 

This lifelong athlete fell in love with sports at a young age. “I’ve been doing sports since 2nd grade,” says Phongsavanh. From playing football to throwing, plus his heart and soul – wrestling, he excelled in sports. Even made it onto a varsity team when he was in the 8th grade. There was little doubt sports would continue to be in Phongsavanh’s life and his future. 

Then, in a random act of violence, Phongsavanh was shot and left paralyzed from the chest down.

“When the incident happened that left me paralyzed, I was at a crossroads,” recalls Phongsavanh. While continuing his education, he wanted more, but the javelin thrower had doubts.

“I threw in high school; I couldn’t imagine throwing in a wheelchair,” says Phongsavanh. Over time, he realized he could return to sports. “I went to my first competition. I broke all the national records,” explains Phongsavanh. “It brought me back to when I would win in high school.”

His passion for sports was still there, and the will to succeed; nothing was going to stop him. “The hunger of wanting to be on the world stage of the Paralympic Games. I’m now an official member of Team USA,” says Phongsavanh. 

What’s next for this inspiring Paralympian? “I want to be the most decorated Paralympic athlete,” asserts Phongsavanh.

And he’s well on his way. But sports aren’t the only thing he has going on in his life. He is also an entrepreneur. Phongsavanh plans on utilizing his accounting education during his downtime from javelin throwing. “Starting in 2024, I’m going to do taxes,” says Phongsavanh. “My season is only in the summer. I want to capitalize on my life now.” 

Part of that life for Phongsavanh is living in Henry County.  “Henry County is great! I’m so thankful for the people I’ve met and the community,” says Phongsavanh. And one of the perks of calling the South home is that “I’ve had amazing barbecue.”

By J.M. Sylver