While the sports section is generally filled with the accomplishments of rich and famous able-bodied athletes, there are countless athletes with disabilities who have inspired the world with their incredible achievements. Here we celebrate and acknowledge the accomplishments of just a few of these most-celebrated disabled athletes and tell the tales of their awe-inspiring lives so far.
Born 29th June 1985, Erin Popovich is a Paralympic swimmer who has won 14 gold medals to date. Born with achondroplasia, also known as dwarfism, Popovich did not let her disorder get in the way of an active life and played soccer and basketball during childhood. She has since 2005 twice won the ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete with a Disability.
Born 11th November 1994, Eleanor Simmonds was born with achondroplasia and made her Paralympic debut as a swimmer at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing which saw her winning 2 gold medals at the incredible age of just 13. She also won 5 European golds in 2009, 4 World Championship titles in 2010, and 2 European golds in 2011.
Born 13th April 1963, Jim MacLaren was involved in a traffic accident in 1985 which saw his left leg amputated below the knee. Following the amputation, MacLaren – a former Yale football player – began competing in triathlons and was at one point the world’s fastest amputee triathlete. We therefore can’t help but wonder how he would’ve fared at online gambling casino! Before his death in 2010, MacLaren worked as a motivational speaker and was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2005 ESPY Awards.
Born 8th February 1990, Bethany Hamilton lost her left arm in a shark attack in 2003, but did not let this setback stop her from pursuing her goals. Already a professional surfer, Hamilton resumed surfing just a month after recovering from the incident and won her first National title. She wrote of her experiences in her 2004 autobiography Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board.
Jessica Tatiana Long
Born 29 February 1992, Jessica Tatiana Long was adopted from a Russian orphanage and had both legs amputated below the knee when she was just 18 months old. As the world record holder in several Paralympic events, Long has participated in several different sporting disciplines including basketball, gymnastics, ice-skating, and running.
Born in 1974 in Arizona, Jason Lester was hit by a speeding car at age 12 while he was riding his bicycle which left his right arm paralysed. However, Lester did not let this setback rule his life and went on to become the first athlete with a disability to complete the Ultraman World Championship. An accomplished endurance athlete, Lester was awarded the ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete with a Disability in 2009 and also authored Running on Faith.
How could we not celebrate these incredible people who have against all odds accomplished what they always wanted to!