Simon Schabort pulled off an incredible feat last month when he swept the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter state championships and was also the individual high point scorer at the Class AA state meet in Columbus.

But for the Schabort family, the big performance was just a continuation of an impressive legacy of determination, hard work and success.

Schabort is the son of Krige Schabort, a world-class Paralympic athlete, wheelchair road race and hand-cycling champion, who is plenty decorated himself after a long career of top finishes to accumulate medals and awards.

Simon Schabort, who just completed his junior year at Model High competing in track and field and cross country, said a lot of who he has become in the athletic realm all goes back to the lessons he learned at an early age from watching his father compete.

“Definitely seeing him be successful and working how hard he did fueled me to want to be like him,” Simon Schabort said. “It has almost everything to do with being as hungry and working as much as I have to make a name for myself.”

Krige Schabort’s story itself is one of a never-give-up, overcoming-the-odds attitude. He was born and grew up in South Africa and lost his legs in 1987 when a Russian bomb went off near him while fighting against Communist aggression in Angola. But what some might have seen as life-changing event for the negative, Krige Schabort used it to open up a whole new path in his life.

While rehabbing his injury, he visited a local track where he saw others training in racing chairs, and he decided then and there that was what he wanted to do. Schabort began his journey to becoming one of the best in the world in the sport and went on to represent South Africa at the Paralympics in 1992, 1996 and 2000 and the United States in 2012 and 2016.

After competing in 1996 in Atlanta, Schabort and his wife, Caron, decided that a move to the U.S. was something they wanted to explore. He was able to secure a sponsor, Eagle Sports, which made it easier when they got there. After three years in Atlanta, the couple moved to Cedartown.

“The environment and feel in Atlanta was something we enjoyed (during the games in 1996),” Schabort said. “We thought about several options in the U.S., but our experience in ’96 was really a stepping stone to us eventually moving here. We had about a three-year plan, and then we left Atlanta and moved to Cedartown. We had kids after that, and we realized this was the place for us.”

Schabort won a bronze medal while competing in the marathon in the Paralympic Games in 1992 in Barcelona and later won a silver in Sydney in 2000. Also among his list of accomplishments is becoming the ITU Paratriathlon World Championin 2014, a two-time silver medalist at the ITU World Championships (2015, 2016), a bronze medalist at the ITU World Championships in 2013, 2015 ESPY winner for Best Male Athlete with a Disability, 2013 USA Paratriathlon National Champion, 2012 USA Triathlon All-American, 2002 IPC World Track Championships silver medalist in marathon and 1998 IPC World Track Championships gold medalist in the 10,000-meter race. He also broke the Ironman World Championship world record in 2011.

While competing, Schabort said he might as well bring his family — which grew to five after he and his wife had two sons, Daniel and Simon, and one daughter, Sarah — along with him to spend more time with them and get them into competing. That’s when the three kids started their athletic careers in running and triathlons.

“I realized early on that all three of my kids were very competitive,” Krige Schabort said. “I even saw it in my youngest, Sarah, in cross country. She told me after one of her first races that she didn’t like losing at all. And I saw it in both of my boys doing triathlons. I realized both of them are competitors and they want to compete against the best. It was a bit of a balance for them. They loved to win, but they learned how to handle losing and use it to make them better.”

Simon Schabort has already had a stellar running career at Model, and he still has one more year to go as he heads into his senior season in a few months. During his trip to the state meet in May, he ran first-place times of 1:56.30, 4:12.65 and 9:04.03 in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 respectively and also was a part of the Devils’ 4x800 relay team that placed eighth with a time of 8:35.85.

Simon Schabort said he laid it all on the line during his trip to state and definitely felt it once he crossed the finish line in his final race of the weekend.

“Over two days, the 1,600 was difficult, but manageable, the 800 was probably the easiest of the three and the 3,200 was one of the hardest races of my life,” Simon Schabort said. “The stress of those few days trying to win all three was a lot, so much so that it was a kind of weird feeling when I was done. It was a massive relief when I crossed the finish line (in the 3,200), and physically I was just done. I was exhausted.”

“I’m not sure people realize exactly how hard that is,” Krige Schabort said of his son’s state championship performance. “To win one of those state championships is a big thing, but to win three in one weekend takes a ton of hard work, total focus and dedication.”

Simon Schabort, who also helped the Model cross country team to a region title and won an individual region title last fall, said he’s not sure of the exact combination that allows him to run at such a high level but he’s just going to continue doing what he’s been doing and set high goals for his senior year.

“I know you’ve got to be super disciplined in workouts and never miss a workout,” Simon Schabort said. “It’s really a combination of all the small things I think — and I’ve got some good genes.

“For this year, my first goal is to get a cross country state title. I haven’t gotten one of those yet. I want to break 15 minutes in the 5K. And then for track, I want to win four state titles.”

Krige Schabort said Simon is the kind of competitor that doesn’t get satisfied once he accomplishes some success. It just makes him want to work harder for the next goal.

“Simon feeds off his wins and accomplishments, but he is a pretty quiet and humble kid,” Krige Schabort said. “He doesn’t talk much about his wins or accomplishments. He talks more about his goals, and he has a great work ethic and sacrifices a lot to make those goals become a reality.”

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