Local paralympic athlete represents USA playing table tennis at 2019 Parapan American Games

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Jenson Van Emburgh is from Belleair Beach and a graduate from Seminole High School. But this week, he's also representing the USA in the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru.

Emburgh is a paralympic athlete in the sport of table tennis, and this 19-year-old is good.

His history in the sport is clear on his athletic biography on the Team USA website.

Emburgh has been on the US Junior Para National Team for 5 straight years.

In that time he has medaled 16 times with three gold medals, five silver medals and eight bronze medals. 

"It's a great experience, you know," says Emburgh. "I get to travel the world doing a sport I love to do."

It's a sport that he actually found by accident. 

As an infant, he suffered a T-1 level spinal cord injury. In layman's terms, that means his arm and hand functions are normal, but he is wheelchair bound.

As a child, his family encouraged him to try different sports like sled hockey and wheelchair basketball. It was in that journey that he was introduced to table tennis. His parents encouraged him to pursue it as he showed increased skill and proficiency. 

"I started playing this, table tennis... I bought a table at the house and just started practicing," says Emburgh. "It took a lot of hours practicing everyday."

It was while he was playing Table Tennis that he was discovered by the Junior Nationals team. 

They introduced him to Jasna Rather and the USA Para Table Tennis Team.

For Emburgh, getting to represent the USA playing his favorite sport is a dream come true.

As for the future, he already has his eyes set on the Toyko 2020 Paralympic Games.

The 2019 Parapan American Games begin Thursday with table tennis competitions a day before the Opening Ceremony. 

To support this local athlete, check out his family's Go Fund Me page.

To get more information on the games, visit the official website.