Ben Ramirez isn’t quite old enough for the London Olympics starting later this month, but the 10-year-old could be headed there in a few years.
Ben blew by the competition at the El Paso, Texas, city swimming championships July 14 and 15 to take home a gold medal in the 25-yard butterfly and the individual medley. He also received two bronze medals in team events.
“It gets exhausting and it gets, like, cold, so you have to keep on trying until you get to first,” Ben told ABC affiliate KVIA-TV after the meet.
But the shocking part is that he did it all with only one arm.
Ben was born in China with only one arm, according to his mother Cindy Ramirez. Ramirez, a single mother of three, adopted him from China when he was 3 years old.
Ben has never used his arm as an excuse and it doesn’t put him at a disadvantage, Ramirez said.
“In the beginning what gave him the most problems was that little kids would stare and they’d ask questions and he was more embarrassed about that,” Ramirez told ABCNews.com. “It was not so much what he couldn’t do but people looking at him.”
Ben, who also plays tackle football, began swimming when he was 4 1/2 years old. He plans on continuing to swim and play football through high school. Ramirez said that although she takes necessary precautions, she isn’t afraid of Ben getting hurt while playing sports.
“He’s a pretty tough guy,” she said.
But Ben isn’t just an avid swimmer; he’s also a motivated student. When he came to the United States, he spoke Mandarin and Cantonese, but picked up English very quickly. He hopes to one day go to Notre Dame and become a lawyer.
“Once he decides to do something he pretty much does it,” Ramirez said. “You don’t have to go after him. He has a goal and he goes for it.”