Rob Jones Overcomes Adversity to Become World-Class Rower

By: Nate Sulham Email
By: Nate Sulham Email

From the top of the water, Rob Jones looks like your average rower, enjoying a peaceful central Virginia day.

It's not until he gets out of the boat that you find Jones, and his story, are much more than just average.

Three years ago Jones was a Marine Corps Combat Engineer, deployed in Afghanistan, when an IED blast took both of his legs. As he lie in the hospital bed a short time later, he began thinking about his future. What came next, would shape his thinking from that point on.

"I'm not going to die. I'm going to survive," Jones explained. "So I had two options. Either let the injury destroy the whole rest of my life or I could let it make my life even better than it would have been before. So it's not really much of a choice, I chose the second one."

Prior to his injury, Rob enjoyed going to the gym, with the rowing machine a favorite exercise. While recovering, he decided to take up rowing as part of his rehabilitation, both mental and physical.

"One thing that rowing has helped with, for me, is help me get my confidence back that I can still be pushed and that I can still do tough, physical stuff," Jones said.

With his confidence restored, Rob took on the world of competitive rowing and in a short amount of time, and with little experience, became more successful than anyone could imagine.

He and teammate Oksana Masters represented the United States in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, taking home a bronze medal. It's an experience that motivated the competition-driven Jones.

"My favorite thing about going to the Paralympics was just getting to test myself against everybody else in the world that was just as motivated as me and just as charged, and wanted it just as bad."

Rob's talent isn't just limited to the water. He's also an avid biker and runner, participating in numerous triathlons and events.

"I've done a couple triathlons, I've done the CFI mini triathlon in San Antonio, I've done the Army 10-miler, the Marine Corps 10k," Jones said.

Re-learning how to ride a bike with a pair of prosthetic legs was a challenge for Jones, one that took him almost nine months to master.

"I'm definitely really proud of learning how to ride the bike again because it's really challenging for a double above-knee to ride an upright bike," Jones explained. "I can think of three people that I've ever heard of that can do it so I'm really proud of that."

This fall, Jones will embark on a cross-country bike ride from Maine to California. He's hoping to raise money to give back to the organizations that aided him in his recovery. You can help donate to Rob's cause here

Meanwhile, he continues to keep a positive outlook on life. An outlook he hopes will inspire others in his situation.

"You get one life. You can either let it be mundane and get through it or you can take a shot and try to make the best out of it. I think one of the things I can help with people is proving that it is possible to do this kind of stuff and then once you know that, the rest is kind of easy."

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