One of the most successful wheelchair athletes in US history, Amanda McGrory is reigning royalty of the US wheelchair racing circuit. With four Paralympic medals to her name, including gold in the 5,000 meter and 22 marathon wins overall worldwide, she’s now a professional athlete with two national sponsors.
But adapted sports weren’t the first thing Amanda thought of after becoming paralyzed. She went through the typical morning period before discovering her life’s passion – wheelchair racing. Check out her story of fanciful wins below!
Why she’s fearless
At the age of five while walking down the stairs is the moment Amanda knew something was wrong. She could no longer fully extend her legs, and within an hour she had lost the ability to walk. Later on in the hospital, Amanda was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord and she’s been paralyzed from the waist down since that day. Her entire life changed in an instant.
And when it happened, Amanda of course was depressed. She was 5 and had no idea of full life could still be possible. It wasn’t until few years later when she went to sports camp and her entire perspective on life shifted. Not only did she learn she could still be independent, she found out about wheelchair sports – and wheelchair basketball and wheelchair racing.
A light bulb went off at that moment, and sports became Amanda’s life passion. At the age of 12 she began competing in wheelchair racing, and by the time she graduated from high school she was offered a full ride to the University of Illinois to be on their woman’s wheelchair basketball team. While there, she helped the team win three national championships. Go Amanda!
After college, she began to compete on a more national and worldwide scale in racing, andin 2006 said she won her first marathon – the NYC Marathon – and two years later at the Beijing Paralympics she won a gold medal in the 5000 meter (and a silver and two bronze). And Amanda kept on truckin’ in 2009 when she won the London Marathon. And she went to the London Paralympics in 2012. Unfortunately, no medals came home with her that year.
In recent years, Amanda has continued to compete. She won the New York City Marathon one more time in 2011 and she headed out west in 2013 to win the LA Marathon. But last year, in spite of some nasty winds and a new course, she placed 4th in the NYC Marathon, and she’s determined to come back and reclaim her title next year.
Twenty eight years old and still going strong, this professional athlete has no plans of moving on from racing anytime soon. She says she wouldn’t change a single thing about her life when she’s interviewed, even her disability, and we believe here.
Amanda is also looking towards the next Paralympics – Rio! Let’s hope Amanda shows the world that even seasoned athletes can still win those gold medals. We have a feeling that just may happen.
– Visit Amanda’s site: AmandaMcGrory.com
What have your life challenges brought out in you?
Watch the videos!