When he was born, Aquiles Diamandis, often called ‘Aqui’ was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a rare, noncancerous condition that can cause bone deformities like the one seen in his right leg. This condition caused the tibia bone to thin, making it very fragile. At the age of two, Aqui broke his leg. Many surgeries have been performed in an attempt to fuse the tibia and fibula bones together with a rod, all failed. He had to wear a brace for most his childhood - making it hard for him to and participate in physical activities, let alone walk.
“It was depressing because me and my parents weren't sure what the future was going to hold for me, most people who have this condition get their leg amputated.”
But this never seemed to affect his competitive spirit and his love for sports. Aqui was very competitive with his brothers Xanthus and Ajax in everything they did. They would often play tackle football and basketball even though Aqui wasn’t supposed to. His older brother Ajax, a former captain of Track and Cross Country (‘17), now runs for Columbia University, and served as his motivation to always strive to find a better version of himself.
“We never stopped competing. Whether is was over a video game or a sport, we always competed with each other,” said Ajax. His family is always supporting him and always reminds Aqui that he can do whatever he wants and that he can break through his limitations.
Growing up, Aqui was the burden of ridicule from other kids, often called names - one of them was ‘cripple’. But this never affected him, he made sure that he was always one-upping his haters. Luckily, at 7 years old the Diamandis family was able to find a doctor to perform a risky, yet successful surgery on his leg. Amputation was avoided - now the sky was the limit for Aqui. During his freshman year here he found his love for track and field from which he attributes to his older brother. The love for working out was real.
“Part of the reason I fell in love with working out was because when I had the brace on my leg I kind of felt scrawny, and weak compared to everyone else,” says Aqui. “I hated asking for help, I thought if i got bigger then i won't have to ask anyone else for help.”
Going into his freshman year, Aqui was 5’10’’ only weighing 135 pounds, he says. Starting off it was hard because he has just got done with a surgery to implant a permanent rod in his leg, he was at a disadvantage and would often find himself putting up less weight than everyone else. He knew he had to work harder than everyone else - and he did. His reps skyrocketed. He frequented the weight room on most days after everyone left.
“He has 100% work ethic, he's committed, he’s disciplined,” says track and field coach Mr. Bradley. “You know, when you look at him you don't even notice. I mean he dedicated himself that much that he is able to put himself above some kids.”
Aqui says that there is never an off-season for him - you find him lifting all year round. His sophomore year he was able to bench 215 lbs., front squat 100 lbs., and clean 160lbs. Those numbers have only improved - dramatically - over the past year. His goal for this upcoming track season is to bench 285, front squat 225, and clean 180.
Aqui has a favorite quote that summarizes his life and represents the integrity he has shown throughout it. He wants everyone who feels like they are limited to do the things they love to walk away with this quote from the movie ‘Rocky’. Sylvester Stalone said it best.
”It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward”.