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icolai Calabria was born without his right leg and hip. At the expense of creating a prosthetic limb to give the semblance of a leg, Nicolai's mobility was compromised. Barely 3 years old, Nicolai decided to discard it and opted for his "sticks."

Nicolai with soccer ballAlthough his mother still worries about his future ability to use a prosthesis – over time, the spine aligns itself with weight being distributed on a single leg – Nicolai loves his crutches and the freedom of movement that they bring. He now is fast enough to play just about any sport that doesn't require his hands being free. Including soccer.

Soccer? You read right. He doesn't just participate, he outscored 90% of his teammates this season! The way he looks at it, the other players have a clear disadvantage: "I'm fast. Without an extra leg, it's like 15 pounds taken off."

Nicolai playing soccerAside from his admiration for soccer, Nicolai is a typical first-grader who likes reading, tolerates the piano lessons his mother insists on and loves math and chess. In December, he intends to defend his second place trophy at the Super National Chess Tournament. His disability has given him an incredible ability to focus.

In his mother words, "the most amazing quality about Nicolai is not his achievements. It's his gift for insisting that he is able."

Good luck with your many ambitions Nicolai. And who knows, we may soon meet online in a Yahoo Games chess room :)

Crutches or prosthesis? Post your views High level amputations and prosthetics

Excerpts of this text are derived from an article which appeared in NUVO, Dec. 19-26, 2001, entitled "Wings, Nico Calabria has the gift of insisting he's able."

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