Q&A with multi-sport athlete Michael Kacer after the indoor rowing

13th September 2014


13 September 2014

American army veteran Michael Kacer picked up a silver medal in the indoor rowing endurance discipline at the Invictus Games, presented by Jaguar Land Rover, and the Pennsylvania native discussed his efforts at Here East with us.

Having lost his left arm in a rocket attack while serving in Afghanistan in June 2008, Staff Sergeant Kacer turned to sport as a way to aid his recovery, and he credits it for saving his life.

Kacer served with the Pennsylvania National Guard for between 1999 and 2010 and now resides just outside New York City.

How have you found the experience of the Invictus Games?

I'm loving it here. I thought the Colorado Warrior Games [the American version of the Invictus Games] was top notch and couldn't be beaten, but the welcome we got here was amazing. Seeing all of the countries come together and compete against each other, but also with each other is great. It's mind blowing and truly amazing.

How did you sustain your injuries?

I was playing cards when a rocket came through the roof of the building and landed ten feet to the left of me. It left me with an ear-to-ear fracture in the back of my head, broken jaw, broken ribs, severed intestine, punctured lungs and my left arm mangled, which they had to amputate.

I stayed in the army for two more years to complete my rehab and to find what I like to call my new normal. Everyone has to find that new normal from time to time, but in our cases it's a little bit harder and rushed. From everything we deal with mentally, physically and emotionally, there's a lot we go through and I tell everyone to find their new normal and I found mine through sports.

Why did you get involved with rowing?

I only started doing rowing about two and a half weeks ago. I played around on the machine, but my main disciplines are swimming and athletics. I took bronze in the 100m and a silver in the 200m in Thursday's track and field.

I figured that if we can break a mould here then we could possibly get the sport involved in the Paralympics. We got a big number of people together today to show off the sport on the stage.

What does sport mean to you?

Sport helped me realise what life is about. It truly reopened my eyes and gave me a new sense of confidence when I didn't have any. I was lost due to the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and was falling into alcoholism. Between sports and my family, they really helped to save my life.

I don't push sports on people as much as I press just finding a new normal. You can find what I found in sports by playing music, in drawing, in dancing or travelling. Whatever it is that gives you that utmost peace and happiness grab it, hold it and run with it.

What are your aspirations in sport now?

I'm going to continue competing until 2016, hopefully hitting the Rio Paralympics in track and field. Once I realise that dream I'm going to go to college and hopefully become a gym teacher.