Paralympic Powerlifting Hopeful Rohan Murphy

Murphy's incredible, "no excuse" journey continues to inspire.


Rohan Murphy can’t stop smiling. Even when the 29-year-old paralympic powerlifting hopeful— capable of benching six plates without the use of his legs—is prompted by a photographer to show some grit during a 100-pound dumbbell bench press, a sneaky grin appears at the corners of his mouth.

No Excuses

His 2008 Nike “No Excuses” commercial, in which he dips, does handstand pushups, and spins around like a break dancer, is set to the happy-go-lucky tune of Burl Ives’ “The Doughnut song.” There’s a moment in the ad, after a set of dips, that he smiles, chuckles, and shakes his head like a coy teenager being asked to the prom. When asked why he smiles so much, his reply is, “Why not? Life is good.”

But when he was a kid, Murphy wasn’t always so elated. In fact, he felt like he was on the outside looking in when he’d go to friends’ Little League and soccer games. His older brother was a decent high school athlete, and Murphy would dutifully watch from the sidelines. He was named after one of his father’s sports heroes—Rohan Kanhai, a West Indian cricket player. He loved sports, but sports weren’t exactly in the cards. Due to a congenital deformity, Murphy had his legs amputated when he was just four years old.

“It was tough for me growing up disabled, because I rejected it,” Murphy says. “I wanted my life to be like everyone else’s.” Because he couldn’t play he felt he couldn’t be the one thing he wanted to be: a normal kid.

“What normal kid doesn’t want to play?” says Ron Croteau, wrestling coach and phys ed teacher at East Islip High School on Long Island, in New York, where Murphy grew up. “So we got him out to wrestling.”