By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
LONDON, Sept. 9, 2012 - After serving her country for nearly 10 years as a paratrooper, Centra "Cece" Mazyck continues to answer the nation's call at the 2012 Paralympic Games here.
Mazyck, who served with the 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., is a javelin thrower for the 2012 U.S. Paralympic team.
"It's been a great, great journey [and] experience," she said. "It's surreal. The crowd is phenomenal."
Here for her first Paralympic Games, the Army veteran explained what goes through her mind as she prepares to compete.
"I try to stay focused and try to remember all the points," Mazyck said. "Chest first – lead with your chest. [I try to] make sure I get that long stretch in the back with the javelin, and [then] just fire like a rubber band. "[I] just continuously run through that process in my head."
Mazyck said she is so passionate about the javelin, she decided to forgo the other traditional track and field events.
"I think the javelin found me," she said. "I really have a passion for it. It's a really technical sport. I just fell in love with it. I dropped everything else – shot put, discus – for the javelin. I love it."
In the Army, Mazyck started off as an administrative specialist in the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Bragg jumping with the 82nd Airborne Division.
"And then I moved on to the Advanced Airborne Course Jump Master School," she said, "where I became a jump master," she said.
On a high-altitude jump in November 2003, Mazyck suffered a spinal cord injury.
"Unfortunately, on that cold November day, I got entangled with another jumper and I landed wrong, which caused me to become an incomplete paraplegic," she said. "I retired in 2005."
Mazyck credits her military career for helping her "adapt and overcome" – she calls that her sports motto -- and become a Paralympian.
"Being a paratrooper, and being in the military service, definitely helped me become a Paralympian," she said. "With both of them, you have to stay focused and dedicated. And you have to serve your country with the utmost respect. So that's how the two are very parallel."
Mazyck said she is grateful for the privilege of serving her country again, and looks forward to the 2016 Paralympic Games, set to take place in Rio de Janeiro.
"It is definitely an honor to serve my country – No. 1, as a veteran, and No. 2, as a Paralympian," she said. "Words cannot express [my feelings]. I just think God gave me a second chance to serve my country. I will not let ... any adversity stop me. I will proceed on. ... Look out, Rio!"
Special Report: Military Paralympians
Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans