After a horrific car accident, 4-year-old Edgard John Augustin woke up to his mother’s horrified screaming and looked down to see that both of his legs were missing from the knees down. His older brother who was seated next to him was also missing a leg, injuries caused from railing that pierced the back window after their mother lost control driving down the highway.
All three members of the Augustin family survived the tragic accident Now, nearly 30 years later, Edgard is a champion bodybuilder.
The 4-year-old spent a year there being taught to walk, first on crutches, then on his prostheses alone. Prosthetic legs and feet don’t provide the same kind of balance as normal rotating ankles, so he learned from a very young age how to use his upper body as his main source of balance due to the lack of stability in his legs.
After moving back home, Edgard suffered through years of teasing about his legs from classmates. Surviving the accident at such a young age enabled Edgard to view his handicaps as a way of life, not as a handicap holding him back. Edgard was fortunate to never go through depression as a result of his accident and handicap, but he did miss his love for running when returning home and to school.
After finishing high school at home in French Guiana, Edgard went to France to work on earning a BTS, a national French diploma for higher education, and it was there that he discovered a love for the gym.
“I started bodybuilding at the age of twenty to help relieve myself of pressure and stress. At that time, I had moved from French Guyana to continue my studies in the mainland of France.”
Working out was simply a way to blow off steam and feel good in body and mind through stressful exam periods in school.
Several years after starting training he contacted a photographer, on a recommendation from a friend, who has been looking for an athlete in top physique to shoot. The photographer was inspired to shoot a series of photos around Edgard’s handicap, to which Edgard graciously agreed. The shoot included pictures of Edgard in sprinting and standing positions, wearing shorts with nothing to cover his prosthetic legs.
The photographer shared his photos of Edgard with the Facebook community, and Edgard was shocked by the overwhelming positivity and praise he received. He used the kind comments to inspire others struggling with similar physical handicaps and thought up the name “Bionic Body” to create his motivational brand, posting pictures of his daily life and workouts with his prosthetic legs on display.
“My motivation is derived from several things. For me, my handicap has taught me that I am in charge of my own life, and I have made the decision as to who I want to be in life. I feel God has a plan for each of us, and it is our decision to submit our lives to his plan. Because of all of my surgeries, my childhood was a rather difficult one. All of my surgeries made it extremely financially complicated for my parents; not to mention that the kids in school would always give me looks and make fun of me.”
Edgard inspires people each day who see him succeeding despite a severe handicap, motivating them to push through their own personal obstacles in life, whether it is a handicap or not.
Today, Edgard has amazing prosthetics that he received shortly after relocating to Paris. His old models had restricted him at the gym, and when they broke his doctor equipped him with new prostheses that allow him to safely work his legs at the gym, including leg presses, leg extensions, leg curls, and hack squats.
He became the European Wheelchair Bodybuilding Champion in May 2015. Edgard still competes today.
“What I love most about this sport is the dedication it takes. Bodybuilding gives me a real sense of accomplishment every day. It also gives me an objective, a discipline and has become a way of life for me!”