MALIBU (CBSLA.com) — “Anyone can accomplish their goals if they set their mind to it,” says Chris Jolly of Playa Vista.
He should know.
Jolly participated in Sunday’s Nautica Malibu Triathlon and placed first in the Men’s Para Division.
Jolly, a below-the-knee amputee, has participated in nine triathlons before Sunday. This win marked his first for the competition in Zuma Beach, which included a half-mile ocean swim, 18-mile bike ride, four-mile run.
“I first started this in 2009,” Jolly told CBS Los Angeles, explaining that he’s participated in the Malibu triathlon every year since with the exception of one year.
“It was about six years ago I got a running prosthetic. When I got that, I was just so excited because I could run much better than I ever had before,” said Jolly.
A friend then recommended, since he was running so well, that he participate in the triathlon.
At first he was apprehensive. He had never been a distance swimmer, but after taking private lessons and joining a master’s swim program, Jolly says he finally believed he could do it.
“I went three or four times a week, every week, before I finally felt like, ‘maybe I can do this,’ ” he said.
Born in Maryland but raised in Tennessee, Jolly has worked all over as a photojournalist, including for KCBS-TV in the late-90s. He currently works for CBS News as a video editor.
A portion of his leg was amputated more than 20 years ago as a result of an accident while on assignment for another news organization in Phoenix, Arizona.
“I was working on a story about retired veterinarian, who was driving an antique farm tractor,” he recalls of the July 26, 1994 incident.
The veterinarian was expected to end his journey in Scottsdale, where friends planned to hold a parade for him. Jolly was asked if he’d like to join him on the back of the tractor during the parade. He agreed.
As they went down the parade route, Jolly says the tractor made a sudden right-turn and threw his body off balance, resulting in his foot getting caught in the spokes of the wheel.
Ultimately, he was “able to receive a prosthetic that restores energy” by utilizing a portion of his healthy leg, allowing him to remain active.
Jolly trained for Sunday’s triathlon for three months and raised more than $5,000, fundraising efforts which will benefit the pediatric cancer research program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. CBS Corporation sponsored a team of 49 employees in this year’s race.
Jolly says he even had to rent a bike for the triathlon after his Litespeed was stolen six weeks ago from his apartment complex in Playa Vista.
“I filed a police report, but I know I’m never gonna see it again,” said Jolly, who explains that the bike had sentimental value as well.
Despite the odds, Jolly peddled on in Sunday’s race, completing the bike portion in 59 minutes; the swim in just under 14 minutes; and the run in just over 37 minutes, according to online results.
“When I had my accident I resolved that I was not going to let it prevent me from doing anything and I enjoy challenging myself to see just how far I can push myself,” he said.
“I’m not really out there to win it,” he added. “That’s always nice, but it’s more of me trying to stay active.”