The 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan, are coming up in a few months, and athletes with disabilities and prosthetics in more than twenty sports are busy preparing for a chance of a lifetime: to compete on the world stage. Now with more than 20 sports represented at the Paralympics, from sprinting to table tennis, there are more and more options for athletes with prosthetics to participate.
Here are a few inspiring athletes with prosthetics who let nothing slow them down:
Kelly Elmlinger, Paratriathlon – Kelly Elmlinger has lived an active lifestyle her entire life. After she graduated from college, she enlisted in the Army where she served in the 82nd Airborne Division’s Combat Aviation Unit. Elmlinger served three deployments to Afghanistan, and after moving to Texas, she became an avid runner. It wasn’t until she started experiencing pain in her lower left leg that she found out she had a rare form of cancer. Doctors performed several surgeries, but after a few unsuccessful attempts, Elmlinger decided to have the lower part of her leg amputated. Now she competes in the paratriathlon, a competition that involves a swim, bike, and run. After competing in a wheelchair, Elmlinger received a running leg prosthetic and now competes with a “moderate leg impairment,” which includes using a prosthetic below the knee. Elmlinger won the 2018 USA Paratriathlon National Championships and was named the 2018 USA Paratriathlon Developmental Athlete of the Year.
Cristina Albert, Snowboarding – Born in Romania with amniotic band syndrome and a club foot, Cristina Albert was adopted at the age of three by an American couple and brought to the United States. After several surgeries to correct her condition, Albert contracted Staph infection when she was twelve. After months of battling infection, they decided to amputate her foot. Despite this setback, Albert started snowboarding in 2011 and quickly rose to the top. She began competing on the world stage, placing fourth in the 2014 Winter Paralympics, the second-highest finish for Team USA in the event.
Roy Perkins, Swimming – Born without hands or feet, Perkins began swimming at the age of twelve. Challenged by his parents to try a variety of sports at a young age, Perkins tried swimming and stuck with it. His dedication to the sport has paid off . As a three-time Paralympian (2008, 2012, 2016), Perkins is an 11-time medalist (2 gold, 5 silver, 4 bronze).
Jessica Heims, Track and Field -Jessica Heims is the first leg amputee to receive a Division I Track and Field scholarship. Heims was born with amniotic band syndrome and had to have her right leg amputated below the knee when she was 12 months old. “(Using a prosthetic leg) is something I just kind of grew up with that was a part of me, but it didn’t really seem to affect me too much,” Heims said. “My family did a good job of making it not the focal point of my life.”
Even if your aspirations aren’t for a gold medal, Excel Prosthetics is excited to partner with athletes of all skill levels. We want to ensure you can live your life to your fullest potential, whether that’s the opportunity to walk your dog around the block, go for a hike, or compete in a triathlon.