When John Register walked around a corner into one of the 13 exhibits in Colorado Springs' new U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum, he couldn't quite believe what was on display.
"I saw that they had my leg from Sydney, Australia, and I didn't know it was here," Register said.
It was with that prosthetic limb that he won the silver medal hanging around his neck — in the long jump during the 2000 Summer Paralympic Games. He of course knew he had donated the leg to the museum.
But that was years ago, and it was surprising and emotional to see it now so prominently displayed among other important memorabilia from throughout American Olympic history.
"I was misty-eyed, because when I see it, it's like going back in time," he said. "I was thinking about all the effort and work and the trials and tribulations that we go through."
The $91-million, twisting steel-and-glass building housing the museum is now open to the public, years after it became the centerpiece of a multi-project effort to revitalize the downtown of Colorado's second-largest city. Some of the landscaping on the grounds has yet to be completed and road workers are still busy with a transformation of nearby Vermijo Avenue into a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare.
The experience inside the facility, however, is ready for visitors.