One-armed sailor qualifies for 2012 Paralympic Games - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

One-armed sailor qualifies for 2012 Paralympic Games

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New Orleans, LA - Mark LeBlanc, 27, grew up on the water living out his passion of sailing from the time he was a little boy, through his years at Jesuit and LSU, despite the fact he was born without his left arm.

"It's exhilarating and fun when you get into close situations with other sailors, it's all about he who makes the least mistakes wins," says LeBlanc.

He was always a competitive sailor - often sailing with someone on a two-person boat.

"You have to know a little bit of math very quickly strategy is involved it gets more and more complicated the more advanced you get in it," says LeBlanc.

But then, Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans, destroying all of the boats at Southern Yacht Club - including the ones LeBlanc and his family sailed.

Hungry to return to the water, LeBlanc rented a smaller boat for one - just for the weekend.

"On this boat I don't think there are any challenges. The boat set up to limit physical exertions, for disabled people or able-bodied people. It's much more of a technical boat, where you must use your head instead of physical force and physical activity," explains LeBlanc.

LeBlanc, a civil engineer was hooked and became very good, very quickly.

"It really just snow-balled and its out of control now," he smiles.

He became so good, he almost made the cut for Team USA the last time around:

"In 2008, I tied for 1st and finished 2nd, which means you don't go in sailing," says LeBlanc.

But this year during competitions in Florida, LeBlanc sealed the deal, finally claiming that #1 spot. He'll now represent the US and New Orleans in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

"A lot of the other competitors have won multiple medals and have been sailing for ten pus years each, so it's a tough fleet. But I think I have a great opportunity, a great shot if I can not make any mistakes and get everything headed in a good direction just before the games," says LeBlanc.

The US Paralympic Sailing Team competes September 1-6 in Weymouth, England, a few hours outside of London.

There are generally 2 races a day, weather permitting. It's a low point scoring system.

At the end of the week, the points are tallied and the medallists will be announced.

If you want to keep up with Mark or help him in his competition journey, click here.

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