JEFFERSON CITY — Michael Margelony has only one eye, but that did not prevent him from winning two gold medals Saturday at the Show-Me State Games martial arts competition.
Margelony, a 16-year-old from Jefferson City, who also won a pair of golds at last year's games, said his reputation as a good fighter has resulted in people with interest in taekwondo asking him about getting involved with the sport.
“Some people get discouraged because they have handicaps or people say they’re not good enough to do it,” Margelony said. “I’m one of the people there to say you can do it, and you will do it if you want to.”
Margelony started working with a taekwondo instructor as a 13-year-old. He was the same age when he was shot in his left eye by a pellet gun he was using to hunt squirrels.
After the accident, specialists examined the eye at the hospital and gave him a choice. Keeping the damaged eye posed a risk of infection, so Margelony had to decide whether to take that risk or have them remove his eye.
“So I told them to take it out, so I didn’t risk losing both of my eyes,” Margelony said.
But there were those who figured he would have to give up martial arts. Margelony said he used that as motivation.
“When people say I can’t do something because I only have one eye or I’m not smart enough, I just go out and do it and prove them wrong,” Margelony said.
His sensei, Brad Spraggs, works with Margelony at the Jefferson City YMCA, where this year's Show-Me State Games competition was held.
“He doesn’t get mad when he is scored on, and he maintains a good attitude about himself,” Spraggs said. “That’s one of the reasons I think he’s on track to earning his black belt.”
Margelony said he hopes to finish up his black belt next year and then wants to compete at a national level.
"The accident has pushed me to excel more than I probably ever could have done with both of my eyes," Margelony said.