Teen overcomes heartbreak, obstacles at robotics championship

Teen honors friend in robotics championship

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- An estimated 20 thousand people are in Louisville for a world championship you may have never heard of.

Students from middle school to college, 32 countries, and 46 states are competing at the Kentucky Expo Center for the VEX Robotics World Championship. Teams are paired at random and must form an alliance, then take on another alliance in a contest with robots they've built to move game pieces around the playing field.

But a one-person team with a triumph-over-tragedy story will have you rooting for the underdog.

At the VEX Robotics World Championship, you'll find a diverse field of competitors with teams from every corner of the planet. There are all girl teams, and every team's robot has a name.

However, none of the teams’ robots have a name quite like that of the robot from Nemesis Robotics.

Remington Haingaertner named his robot “Grant White” after his teammate who died in a crash in November of 2016, which also seriously injured the Haingaertner.

"I do not have a teammate. I'm on a team by myself,” said 17-year-old Haingaertner. “A few months ago I was in a moped accident where I lost my foot, and my teammate was killed.”

At the time, this competition seemed like a longshot, but Haingaertner made quick progress, learning to use his prosthetic, and got to work on his robot.

"I lost my foot in the moped accident and broke my femur,” said Haingaertner. “I have a rod from my knee to my hip, which has been a struggle walking."

With the help of sponsors and his Dad, the young man, who is about to turn 18, is taking on the world alone.

His mission is filled with roadblocks most will never fully appreciate, and he’s facing a fierce competition.

"To me, it's the achievements,” explained Haingaertner. “I would like to win? Yes. Everybody would. But at the same time, I've won with what I've done. State Champion, that's enough for me, and going through all I have is quite an accomplishment I believe."

In a contest late Friday, a stuck robot and tough opponent were too much, but in the defeat the young man from Fayetteville, Arkansas found meaning.

"It does stink to lose, yes, but you can't win unless you lose some. You have to lose. That's part of life,” he said.
Through loss, he’s still winning.

“Maybe not in the competition but overall,” said Haingaertner. “I believe I've won by being here.”

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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