Welcome To An American Archer
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If you want to know the meaning of the word determination, just ask Karl Keranen. Better yet, ask his doctors. Karl was born with a combination of congenital musculo-skeletal defects which gave the infant a slim chance of survival. Should he live, the doctors did not foresee Karl being able to walk or even sit up on his own. At five months old, after an initial series of surgeries on his ankles, Karl was placed in faster care with no hope of survival. Karl's foster mother, Pat, thought otherwise.

Karl did survive and adapted to a lifestyle of surgeries and recoveries that was to carry him from his childhood through his early teens. From kidney disease, Prune Belly Syndrome (a rare defect where the person is born without abdominal muscles - those muscles which protect the internal organs from damage), surgery to correct dysfunction in a variety of internal organs and the ever present skeletal corrections which resulted in long convalescence in body casts, Karl refused to let the world pass him by.

As a further setback, Karl was misdiagnosed as being mentally retarded when he was in first grade. He was sent to schools for special education where he spent the next eight years when he was not at home, recovering from yet another surgery. With no outside assistance from his school, and no access to outside activities, Karl taught himself to read, write and do mathematics. He learned geography, astronomy (still a passion of his today) and history. He took anything he could get his hands on to feed the hunger in his mind.

Other youngsters climb trees; so, while he was in a wheelchair, Karl took some rope from his fathers garage and hoisted himself- and his wheelchair - into the tree in the family's front yard. Other youngsters have part time jobs far a little pocket money; so, Karl got himself to the local shopping center and sold drawings that he created. And, most of all, Karl made friends every chance he could. Friends that let him know more about the outside world, taught him to fly plains when he was nine and brought him presents to while away the long hours. One of those friends, a truck driver he met on the CB, brought Karl his first archery bow.

Finally, at age thirteen, a new administrator of the special school Karl attended discovered the misdiagnosis and Karl was sent to standard high school. He had a ninth grade mathematics level and a fourth grade reading level (but it only took him four months to catch up). Although there were still surgeries to undergo, they were less frequent. Karl majored in music, learned to play the guitar and flute, sang, joined the computer and debate club, became the president of the astronomy club and discovered sports. He was on the swim team for 3 ¸ years and lettered in water polo. But archery remained his first love and would be his sport of choice upon leaving high school.

In 1994, Karl purchased his first Olympic recurve bow and set out on his most ambitious quest - to be come a world class Olympic archer. Within five months, Karl entered the California State Outdoor Target Championships. He entered the short FITA division, and won Bronze, his first medal. In 1995 he earned Silver and 1st place in a 3D tournament in the bair bow division. In 1996 he earned Bronze in the same venue. In 1996, Karl won his first Gold medal in the California Interstate Tournament in the short FITA division. He also began to be trained by Don Rabska, a world class archer and coach.

In 1997 Karl learned about an organization called Wheelchair Sports U.S.A., which was the governing body far disabled sports across the United States. Karl was specifically desiring to make the US Olympic team and did not give the disabled team any thought, until his friend and future business partner Martin Villegas convinced him to look into the opportunities that were presented to him. After a few weeks of encouragement by Martin Karl made the call and contacted Wheelchair Sports U.S.A.

Since beginning to compete in the Disabled division Karl has earned nine national indoor first place titles and also was the outdoor disabled national champion in three times for his division. In 2002 Karl attained a long time goal of qualifying for his first able body interstate team as alternat for the Duel of the Desserts competition between California and Arizona. In 2003 Karl succeeded in qualifying for the Olympic round competition at the Cal-Cup archery tournament in Sacramento California. He did this by making the cut into the top 16 of all the Archers in the tournament and shooting a personal best score. Karl Finished 16th.

At the same tournament Karl shoot the qualifying score he needed to be named to the U.S. Disabled Archery Team and will be going as a team member to Madrid Spain for the IPC World Archery Championships where he finished 16th over all.

Karl again qualified for the world championships in Cheongue Korea in 2007. Unfortunately after all the preparation call finished 44th. On the trip to Korea his equipment was lost by the airlines. His equipment arrived 5 days later the day of competition. After not shooting for 8 days Karl placed poorly and was eliminated early in the competition and finished a disappointing 44th.

Karl's goal is still to qualify for the Olympics but know he is striving also for Paralympics. The Paralympics are the venue for athletes with disabilities. The Paralympic games occur just a few weeks after the traditional Olympic games in the same host city. A small number of athletes qualify for both the Paralympic and Olympic games - this is Karl's goal.

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