SARATOGA SPRINGS — Isaac French, 18, is on his way to represent the United States as he competes in the Rowing World Championship in Linz, Austria.
The action of rowing utilizes the full body to power through. One’s lower extremities are the driving force that gives a rower their momentum. French, who was born without legs never let that stop him from pursuing competitive sports.
"It hasn't really affected me. My parents have kind of been really supportive of everything throughout the years so that helped a lot,” said French.“Also having that spirit of 'just keep trying' and everything...that's kind of what my parents instilled."
When he was 13 years old, French began rowing with his older siblings and it soon became his favorite sport.
"I'd say rowing for sure has taught me a lot about persistence and everyday kind of persistence. Every day - just coming towards life and your goals,” said French.
French Is a part of the Advanced Rowing Initiative of the Northeast (ARION) of Saratoga Rowing. This elite status of rowing comes with a lot of early 5 a.m. practices.
Prior to rowing, he was a wrestler. His grandfather, the late wrestling coach Joe Bena is French’s biggest inspiration as he demonstrated perseverance until the end of his life.
“He kind of brought that same aspect from his coaching years to his own life, which is super inspirational cause every day he'd push himself to take a few more steps or kind of do that, even though his heart was kind of giving out. That was really inspirational to me,” said French.
In 2017, French first competed at the Rowing World Championship and was recognized as the youngest racer to ever compete in the event. This year his eyes are set on making the Olympic team in time for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Making it to Worlds is not only a challenge athletically, but the competitors have to raise the money or find sponsors to make it to the competition, otherwise, an alternate will take their place. From the qualifying Class 2 Paired Rowing races,
French has five weeks to raise $10,000 in order to compete in Austria. To help French make it to Austria visit www.classy.org/ fundraiser/2188529.