Woodhall earns Bronze in Tokyo

Difficult journey ends in success, thanks to friends and family
Thursday, September 9, 2021
Woodhall earns Bronze in Tokyo

Wyatt Woodhall (left) had long supported his nephew Hunter Woodhall (second from right), who won a Bronze Medal for Team USA on Sept. 3. Also shown here is Hunter’s cousin Adie next to her dad Wyatt. Adie is now a freshman at Dickinson State University. Beside Adie is her mom Holly Woodhall, and on the far left is Hunter’s cousin Rhet Woodhall, a pilot. Not shown are Holly and Wyatt’s other two children Dylan and Kade. Photo courtesy of the Woodhall Family

Woodhall earns Bronze in Tokyo

Paralympian Hunter Woodhall (right) poses with his girlfriend Tara Davis (left), who competed in the long jump event at the 2021 Olympics, and late uncle Wyatt. Woodhall took bronze during the Paralympics in Tokyo. Photo courtesy of Woodhall family

Hunter Woodhall, the nephew of Holly and the late Wyatt Woodhall of Stanford, certainly made his uncle Wyatt and friends and family in Judith Basin proud Friday Sept. 3, by bringing home a bronze medal for Team USA at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

In a July interview with MTN Sports, Hunter told interviewer Tom Wylie, “I feel that [uncle Wyatt’s] looking down on me. I hope that I can perform well and make him proud.”

Hunter Woodhall definitely did what he set out to.

“I wish young Hunter could see what we’ve done.”

- Hunter Woodhall, 2021 Bronze Medalist

Woodhall finished the 400m T62 with his season’s best time at 48.61. The T62 is the division that Hunter races under, using running blades to overcome his double below-the-knee amputations.

Hunter was born with a condition termed fibular hemimelia on his left leg, where the fibula bone was absent. On his right leg, his ankle was fused.

When Hunter Woodhall was just around a year old, his parents Steve and Barb Woodhall decided to have both of Hunter’s legs amputated near the ankle so that their son would be able to walk one day. They made this decision to give their son more options for his future.

This couple has direct ties to Central Montana, as does Hunter Woodhall, who returns to visit.

Steve Woodhall, Wyatt’s brother, graduated from Hobson High School. Hunter’s mother Barb’s maiden name is Strong. She is from Grass Range.

“They [Doctors] said I’d never walk, so I learned to run instead,” Hunter Woodhall posted on his Instagram profile on Oct. 6, 2019.

Overcoming obstacles

Hunter was homeschooled until he was in fifth grade. When he joined public school, bullying became an unfortunate part of his day-to-day life, he has said. On a positive note, in a People Magazine Exclusive article published August 18, 2021, Hunter attributed this bullying to his success as an athlete.

When Hunter Woodhall was just 16 years old, at the 2015 World Championships, he took home a Silver in the 400m T44, with a time of 49.05, and a bronze in the 200m T44, with a time of 22.09.

In 2016 at the Paralympic Games in Rio, Woodhall won a Silver in the 200m T44, with a time of 21.12, and a Bronze in the 400m T44, with a time of 46.70.

Also in 2016, U.S. Paralympics named Hunter Woodhall Male High School Track Athlete of the Year.

Forging his path

Hunter Woodhall was the first double amputee to receive a Division I NCAA track scholarship in 2017, racing for the Razorbacks at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Woodhall graduated from the University of Arkansas this past spring, but left with one season of college track eligibility left.

About the importance of completing his education, Hunter’s mother Barb Woodhall said to the Judith Basin Press, “I reminded him how he has so many followers on social media and fans who look up to him. I impressed upon him how it important it was to follow through on his education, not only for himself but also for others. Hunter may not necessarily need a university diploma for a successful future, but he owed it to himself and others to finish it. It was a lot of work. He had a lot to juggle. We are so proud that he took on all the added time and commitment to complete his degree from the University of Arkansas.”

Woodhall continued to train in Fayetteville at the University of Arkansas in preparation for the Paralympic games.

Woodhall’s decision to go pro with one season of eligibility left had much to do with the stringent rules the NCAA held over college athletes that kept them from profiting while part of the NCAA, according to an article in the New York Times.

In March 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the NCAA’s rules to be in violation of the antitrust laws, but Woodhall had already gone pro the same month as the ruling. It is likely that Woodhall helped shine light on the issues so that they can be corrected for current and future college athletes.

In an August 28 article in Forbes Magazine, Woodhall is quoted as saying, “I’m super excited now since these rules have been put in place and NCAA athletes are getting the opportunity to use their brand and monetize their names. I would hope that the sacrifice that I made helped move that needle a little bit.”

Just before the Paralympics, Woodhall and his girlfriend and fellow athlete Tara Davis signed with Champion Athletics.

After going pro, Hunter wrote on social media on March 30, “Outside of my family and a few others in my life I was seen as a charity case and people were content that I just showed up. Ten years later I can call myself a professional athlete competing against the best competitors in the world.”

Online popularity

Woodhall is a popular figure on social media through TikTok, Instragram, and YouTube.

He and his long-time girlfriend Tara Davis, an Olympic long jumper, host this YouTube page.

Woodhall and Davis met at a high school track meet in Idaho, a state neither lived in at the time. Hunter attended Syracuse High School in Utah. Davis attended Agoura High School in California.

Hunter and his business partners Jonathan Montgomery and Matt Horner have a successful company named Giant Hoodies. Oprah Winfrey listed Giant Hoodies as one of her Amazon favorites of 2020. Oprah is not the only famous daytime host to take notice of and support Woodhall. His video about how he lost his legs and his journey as an athlete has been viewed by millions resulted in him being on the Ellen Degeneres show, and one of the show’s sponsors, Shutterfly, donated $20,000 toward Hunter Woodhall’s Paralympic Training.

Woodhall is also an ambassador for the Shriners Hospital as well as a motivational speaker.

“It’s a blessing that I am even able to walk. So you all go chase your dreams, and don’t listen to what other people try to tell,” Hunter said in the video.

What the Bronze means

After recently winning the Bronze in the 400m, Hunter posted on his Facebook page, “It’s hard to put into words how I’m feeling right now, more than anything, thankful. This has been the longest and most challenging season of my life. I’ve been training for these games since September of 2019 and the day finally came.

“My body is tired and ready for a break, but this medal represents much more than that. It represents the support from my girlfriend, family, friends, team, and others along the way. It represents an ability to pursue my multiple passions at the same time regardless how challenging it gets. And it reminds me how great my God is.

“I wish young Hunter could see what we’ve done, because then making it through the day was a big enough win. I cannot thank everyone enough for the amount of love and support sent my way.”