To say that Jordan Malone's determination and spirit are stronger than the titanium that holds much of his body together is a bit of an understatement.
Team USA Short Track Speed skater Malone, whose career has consisted of 15 broken bones, a broken jaw, a detached face, and an Olympic bronze medal in the Vancouver Olympics, gave himself the nickname "Humpty Dumpty," according to Agence France-Presse. But unlike his self-given moniker, Malone has been put back together again and he is a force to be reckoned with in the 2014 Sochi Games.
"Fifteen broken bones, nine major surgeries, 18 screws, and four titanium plates still in me," Malone told KXAS. "You'd think I was doing something like snowboarding or an extreme sport."
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A native of Denton, Texas, 29-year-old Malone got his start as an in-line skater, becoming a 14-time world champion in the sport. But even after a brutal skating accident in Switzerland in 2002, in which his jaw was broken and his face had to be reattached to his skull with screws and four titanium plates, Malone was undeterred from forging on. His dreams of Olympic gold inspired him to switch his sport to speed skating in 2004, and six years later he won his first Olympic medal in the Vancouver Winter Games.
But his injuries didn't stop coming. Malone suffered more broken bones, torn ligaments, tendinitis in his Achilles, and even cracked ribs as recently as last month during the Olympic trials.
And then there was the emotional stress of being part of the embattled U.S. short track program, which lost its coach, Jae Su Chun, to suspension after several team members accused Chun of verbal, physical and emotional abuse — allegations that he denies, reports The Associated Press.
But Malone's attitude about it all is ever-positive.
"A lot of that negative influence is gone now and we're starting anew and we have a lot to prove," he told the AP. "We've got a really positive team going into these games."
Despite all of his physical and organizational setbacks, Malone was the only short track skater in the U.S. to compete in all five World Championship events from 2005 to 2009. Malone told KXAS that his perseverance is in part thanks his mother and his wife for always encouraging him to go on.
"I had to realize that nothing I'd ever given up on I've been satisfied with," Malone told KXAS. "You know if you go and look back and see that's the case on everything you’ve ever done, you have no choice but to keep going."
Now making his second appearance in the Olympics in this year's Sochi Games, Malone's choice to "keep going" seems to have made him ready to compete and more grateful for the opportunity than ever.
Often tweeting from Sochi with hashtags like "#PrideFamilyTeamHonor," Malone tweeted a beautiful photo of the opening ceremony Friday, writing, "A dream that has happened for myself twice in a lifetime."