LOS ANGELES --Two-time Olympic high jumper Jamie Nieto was recovering after a freak accident that left him paralyzed. He talked about the accident in an emotional video recorded from his hospital bed.
Speaking from his hospital bed at LAC+USC Medical Center, Nieto counts his blessings after suffering a severe spinal injury in a freak training accident while working with Olympic hopefuls at Azusa Pacific University last Saturday.
The 39-year-old actor and athlete, who represented the U.S. at the Olympics in 2004 and 2012, was critically injured when his foot slipped while doing a backflip landed on his head, paralyzing him.
It's an incomplete injury, however. Nieto has undergone one surgery, which is already giving him some of his movement back.
"Every day, I'm regaining strength and mobility, and I'm starting to move more stuff," he said in the video.
Nieto's girlfriend and fellow Olympian Shevon Stoddart said he is a fighter who is now focused on his recovery, one day hoping to jump again.
"That athlete inside of him, that Olympic champion - this is going to be that gold medal he's going after. This is going to be his comeback, and I know that after this, I told him, 'Jamie, you're going to be stronger than you've ever been,'" she said.
Before the accident, Nieto canceled his health insurance due to financial hardship. He now faces mounting medical bills at the hospital and from long-term rehabilitation he will need.
But fellow Olympian Lolo Jones set up a fundraising campaign to help, and Stoddart said the response has been overwhelming.
"Jamie was there having that support as he went after that gold medal in the Olympic games," she said. "And he needs everyone's support as he comes back, so he can be that jumper again."