SPORTS SPOTLIGHT: 5 Inspiring Stories About Famous Athletes With Disabilities

By  //  March 1, 2023

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athletes that compete with disabilities are truly inspiring and amazing

There’s no shortage of amazing athlete origin stories, but these athletes that compete with disabilities are truly inspiring and amazing. These folks have done some pretty awesome things in sports and everyone needs to know their stories.

1. Alana Nichols

In an unfortunate snowboarding accident at 17 years old, Alana Nichols attempted a backflip on her snowboard and ended up on a rock on her back. Although she was paralyzed from the waist down, she continued to compete. After snowboarding, she set her sights on wheelchair basketball.

She was talented enough to earn a gold medal with Team USA in Beijing in the 2008 Summer Paralympics. After basketball, she got into skiing. In 2009, Alana edged out Laurie Stephens in the Super G at the North American Cup. And in the 2010 Winter Paralympics, she won four medals. One gold in the downhill sitting event and another in the giant slalom sitting event. You can do it too. With quick adaptive sports near me Google search, you’ll be well on your way.

2. Bethany Hamilton

If you’ve ever seen the movie, Soul Surfer, then you’re already familiar with the story of Bethany Hamilton.  At the tender age of 13, she was attacked by a shark and lost her left arm. She survived the attack and got back in the Hawaiian waves she loves so much within a month. And in a few months, she was back in competition, using a custom surfboard equipped with a handle for her right arm.

Although she’s still a surfer girl at heart, she divides her time between her first love and speaking engagements. Bethany no longer needs a custom board, and she’s even gone on to place first in both the NASA National Competition (2005) and the O’Neill Island Girl Junior Pro Tournament (2005). In 2009, She placed second in the ASP World Junior Championship in Australia.

3. The Hoyts

This father and son duo, Dick and Rick Hoyt, have been running since 1977 and have participated in over 70 marathons, including six Ironman triathlons. Rick Hoyt was born with cerebral palsy due to his umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck at birth.

Rick’s dad has crafted a special boat, bicycle, and wheelchair that allows him to pull, carry or push Rick during races and competitions. This dynamic pair even won the 2013 Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYs. The experiences these two have had and the dedication these two exhibits are truly inspiring.

4. Jim Abbott

Jim was born without a right hand, but that has not slowed him down any. In fact, he’s kind of a legend. He had a dream of playing Major League Baseball, and he persevered until he saw it come to fruition. That’s right, this Flint, Michigan native earned a first-round selection in the 1988 MLB draft.

He was a pitcher for the California Angels, and he had never pitched one ball in the minor leagues. In his third year, he finished third in the Cy Young voting, had a 2.89 ERA, and an 18-11 record. Jim even threw a no-hitter in 1993 against the Indians. 

5. Oz Sanchez

This former US Marine was paralyzed when he injured his spine in a motorcycle accident in 2001. A short seven years later, Oz Sanchez became a paralympic athlete as a hand cyclist and triathlete. Representing the USA in Beijing in 2008, he won two medals. One was gold in the para-cycling time trial, and the other was a bronze medal in the road race.

In 2009, Oz won the gold in the para-cycling time trial at the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships in Italy. The 2012 Paralympics saw him win the gold in the team relay and the bronze in the individual time trial. He also won two medals in 2016, silver in the mixed team relay and bronze in the time trial.

If these five stellar athletes don’t inspire you to push through in spite of adversity and undesirable conditions, we don’t know what will.

These examples of resilience and perseverance should give us all hope for the future and proof that anyone can do great things.

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