Athletes with physical differences learn to adapt by focusing on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. In doing so, they often find success while becoming role models for many young athletes who can see a path for their own success.
Here are some incredible adaptive athletes who overcame any perceived limitations to reach incredible heights.
Blink and you may miss this Paralympian skiing past you.
Oksana’s sport is Nordic Skiing and her disciplines are Biathlon, Cross Country Skiing and Road Cycling.
She is a four-time Paralympian and competed in the 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 games. Oksana is also an eight-time medalist, winning two gold, three silver and three bronze medals.
After a tremendous 2019, she was named the 2019 Female Paralympic Athlete of the Year and World Spokesperson of the Year with a Disability.
When she shoots, she scores.
Megan is a Wheelchair Basketball player on Team USA, who competed in 2016 and won a gold medal.
Once she graduated, she competed in the Paracanoe for Team USA and won a silver medal at the 2013 Paracanoe World Championships.
Recently, Megan was selected to the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team and is chasing her second gold medal.
Jessica is one of three U.S. paralympic swimmers to compete in four Paralympic Games.
Long, who was born with fibular hemimelia. joined her first competitive swim team at age 10 and competed in the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games at age 12.
She is a four-time Paralympian: competing in the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Games. In addition, Long has won 23 medals: thirteen gold, six silver and four bronze.
McKenzie competed in the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. She won three gold and one silver medal.
She was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta as a child and started swimming in 2001.
Outside of the water, McKenzie graduated from Loyola University and started her own organization called “Kenzie Kares.”
Her motto is “Great Attitude. Hard Work. Lots of Fun.”
Brittani started snowboarding at 13 years old. In 2003 while she was snowboarding, she broke her right ankle. After undergoing many surgeries, she decided to amputate her leg below the knee.
In 2018, Brittani became a Paralympian, participating in the Pyeongchang and winning a silver medal. She is looking to add to her collection in 2021 and competing in her second Paralympic Games.
In addition to being a snowboarder, she works as a nurse and an EMT.
Grace began running at a young age, although born with congenital constriction band syndrome.
Grace is a five-time medalist in the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships, a two-time USA Paratriathlon National Champion, and a nine-time ITU World Paratriathlon Event medalist.
She also became the first woman to win a gold in debut in the Paratriathlon at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
This is Jaleen Roberts, but many know her by her nickname “Jumpin’ Jay.”
Roberts, who was born with cerebral palsy, grew up playing many different sports including basketball, football and wrestling.
Roberts has competed in the World Championships twice: in 2017 and 2019. She has won five medals: one gold, two silver and two bronze.
In 2019, she was a member of Team USA and won a gold medal in the 4x100m relay.
Tatyana is a Russian born American and an asset to the United States Wheelchair Track and Field program.
The five-time Paralympian made her debut in 2004. where she gained a bronze and silver medal.
In her five Paralympic Games, she reeled in 17 medals, 7 of which were gold, on top of 20 medals she garnered at World Championships, 16 of which were gold.
Her mentality on the track translates into an activist voice on the side, promoting adaptive athletics and sharing her story.
Sarah is an American paratriathlete and a former Paralympic Track and Field athlete.
Her success in running led to her Paralympic debut in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain.
After the Paralympics, Sarah switched her focus to the triathlon and became the first woman with a prosthetic leg to cross the finish line of the Ironman World Championship in 2005.
She then tackled several more Ironman’s, joined the 2010 USA Paratriathlon National Team, and has earned a number of other honors since.
Alana is a five-time Paralympian, competing in Wheelchair Basketball, Paracanoe, and Paralympic Alpine Skiing.
In 2008, her Paralympic run began, as she competed in the 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016 games, garnering six medals and becoming the first American woman to win gold in both the winter and summer games.