Tag Archives: Paralympic Games

SCI Superstar: Anne Wafula Strike

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When you’re born, you never know what the future holds in store for you. For Anne Wafula Strike MBE, the first East Africa Paralympian who is now changing lives in Africa with her foundation, her disability may have the best thing that ever happened to her.

But at the time of her disability, there was no one from her little Kenyan village that would have agreed. Not yet anyway. An athlete, mother, author and chair of a foundation in her name, this is the story of Anne Wafula Strike.

Why she’s fearless

Growing up in Kenya, the first two years of Anne’s life we’re completely normal. She was a healthy, able-bodied girl from a loving family. But at the age of 2 1/2 years, Anne was struck with polio, which quickly spread through her spinal column and permanently paralyzed her from T7 and down.

Polio at the time was something not understood in her village. Many thought she was cursed and wanted to burn down her family’s home.  And with her mother dying at the age of nine, her childhood was rough. Fortunately however she was blessed with an educated father who made sure and was educated as well. She went to high school and even sang in a high school band.

While the injury would limit her from using her legs again, but what she would destined to do with their upper body was amazing.  After having a child in her twenties and moving to the UK, she was inspired in 2002 while watching female wheelchair racers on TV and knew it was something she wanted to do. So at the age of 31 years old she began to train become a wheelchair racer, and become a wheelchair racer did she ever.

When she began to race, the sport came easily to her. In 2004, she represented Kenya at the Paralympics in Athens and in 2005, she was the first person to represent Kenya in the World Cup. She may have been late to the game when it came to athletics, but she’s a natural. In 2006, she landed a spot on the Great Britain wheelchair racing team, and was the #1 racer there in both the 100 meter and 200 meter categories.

And when the Paralympics came through London in 2012, she carried the Olympic torch with two other British citizensoriginally from Africa.

What’s next?

Now days, this 44 year old woman is busy trying to change the world. With her foundation, the Olympia Wafula Foundation, she writes and speaks whenever she can on the topic of advancing the rights of the disabled in Africa. And just recently, she returned from Nigeria, Malawi and Kenya donating wheelchairs to kids with disabilities.

She is also working with the British polio fellowship to change the perception of polio. Her work with the disabled has been so powerful that she was awarded a member of the most excellent British Empire last October. Adaptive clothing designer IZ Adaptive even made her a custom dress (seen above).

And lastly, Anne wrote a book a couple of years ago called “In My Dreams I Dance,” an autobiography where she talks about her upbringing into her life today. One of the quotes from this book was chosen as one of the top 10 quotes in Europe of 2013. The quote: “I have suffered discrimination, but what I have come to realize is that when I carry out grudges I am the one who suffers most.”

A beautiful quote from an ever hopeful soul. We hope that Anne gets the

Have you considered taking up adapted sports once past the age of 30?

– Visit her site: Anne Wafula Strike MBE

– Visit her foundation: Olympia Wafula Foundation

Watch the videos!

Anne Wafula, from a mud hut to tea with the Queen

Women and Power: Disability is not inability, Anne Wafula’s story

Olympia Wafula Foundation

SCI Superstar: Matt Scott

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Look close…chances are you might recognize Matt Scott. By far one of the most accomplished wheelchair basketball players in the world, he’s been winning international wheelchair basketball cup titles since 2008.

He’s also a medal-winning Paralympian, a former Nike spokesperson and a nominee for an ESPY Award. It’s no understatement to say his life has been completely transformed by wheelchair-basketball, and the best part – he’s just a kid from Detroit.

From the Paralympics to kicking butt and taking names playing wheelchair basketball in Turkey, Matt has gone international with his superstardom.

Why he’s fearless

When he was born, Matt was diagnosed with spinal bifida, which means his spinal cord wasn’t developed all the way. Born in the 1980’s, doctors at the time didn’t have hope he would be very mobile, but Matt proved them all of them wrong.

He became incredibly strong and when he was 14 he was introduced to wheelchair basketball. “Wheelchair-basketball didn’t just change my life,” he likes to say. “It became my life.” After playing wheelchair basketball all through high school, in 2004 he was recruited to be on the U.S. Paralympic basketball team.

Matt went to the 2004 Paralympics, and afterwards played at UW-Whitewater on their men’s wheelchair basketball team. In 2007, he helped the US win gold at the Parapan American Games, which thrust him onto the national spotlight.

After this win, Matt was approached by Nike to star in the now famous “No Excuses” commercial, where he dribbles two basketballs or shoots the ball, but is only shot from the waist up. It’s not revealed until the end of the commercial that he’s in a wheelchair. Watch

Because 2007 was such an amazing year for Matt, he was nominated for an ESPY Award for “Best Male Athlete.” And after graduating from college with no impending Paralympics, Matt moved to Turkey to play professionally for the epic Galatasaray Wheelchair Basketball Team, a hugely popular sports club in Turkey and one of the best wheelchair basketball teams in the world, and he’s been there ever since.

What’s next?

Over the years Matt has become a huge athletic star in Turkey, signing autographs wherever he goes (wheelchair basketball is a hugely popular sport attended by thousands in Turkey; not just by friends and family like in the US). And the first year he joined the team, he helped them win their first IWBF (International Wheelchair Basketball Federation) title. Since their first win, he’s helped them win every year except for one.

And in 2012, he returned to the Paralympics playing for the US. This time he had the honor of being a brand ambassador for Ralph Lauren, and even better, he finally helped the US win a bronze medal in men’ wheelchair-basketball after a long dry spell.

While most adapted athletes aren’t able to make a living doing what they love, Matt has figured out a way. And at 29 and counting, Matt just keeps getting better with no plans of returning to the US anytime.

Not unless a US pro-league for wheelchair ballers magically pops up. If that happened, he’d be the wheelchair baller king of Detroit, we have no doubt.

Do you think a pro-wheelchair basketball league in the US could survive?

Visit the official page for the Galatasaray Wheelchair Basketball Team

Learn more what it’s like for Matt to live/play in Turkey

Watch the videos!

Nike Basketball ‘No excuses’ advertising starring Matt Scott

Paralympic Sport and Accessibility Team Promote the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid in a Great PSA

Matt Scott playing in the Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Bronze Medal Match – Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games

Galatasaray Wheelchair Basketball Team

Riot at a wheelchair basketball game in Turkey