So you’re enjoying the Olympics yeah? Inspirational? You haven’t seen anything yet. The Paralympics kicks off on the 29th of August and if you thought that watching the Olympics was motivational, wait til you get a load of these guys. In the first Paralympic Games to ever sell out, Swide picks ten awesome Paralympic Athletes to watch out for.
David Weir, Great Britain
Britain is the leading nation in Paralymic sports and in Britain David Weir is the best. In Beijing he won the 800m and 1500m categories in wheelchair racing and in front of the home crowd he’ll be looking to do better this time round. Born disabled Weir grew up walking with callipers, his parents had always discouraged him from using a chair, but when technology allowed for better, faster chairs he took to the wheels. He is now glad he did so because he is considered the best all-round racer in the world in the event with the deepest talent pool.
Jerome Singleton, USA
Not only is Singleton an incredibly talented sprinter, he is great all-rounder having played football, basketball and track and field at school. He’s bright too taking a triple major degree in maths, applied physics and industrial engineering before taking internships at NASA and CERN. Born without a fibula in his right leg, doctors amputated his leg below the knee when he was 18 months old. He beat Oscar Pistorius in the 100m at the World Championships and looks set to challenge for the gold in London.
Oscar Pistorius, South Africa
Known as ‘Blade Runner’ South African Pistorius is the poster boy for disabled athletics the world over. He is not competing in the Paralympics but has qualified for the Olympics becoming the first double amputee to ever compete in the Olympics, representing South Africa in the 400m and the 4x400m relay. Born with a congenital defect that left him with no fibula in either leg, doctors amputated his legs between the knee and the ankle when he was 11 months old. The IAAF banned him from able-bodied athletics claiming that his prosthetic limbs gave him an unfair advantage, that ban was overturned lat year leaving the door open to Oscar to create history this year. Pistorius has claimed that he is ‘sick of’ the furore over his eligibility and is now ready to put it all behind him and do his talking on the track.
Esther Vergeer, Netherlands
Vergeer has been the world number one in wheelchair tennis for the last 13 years. She is extraordinary to watch and does things on the court that your eyes can’t believe. At times it seems her wheelchair can go in any direction. At the age of seven Esther had an operation on the bone marrow in her spine, when she woke she found she was paralysed from the waist down. Sport was used in her rehabilitation and set her on the road to becoming a phenomenon.
Oksana Masters, USA
Oksana grew up in an orphanage in the Ukraine where food was scarce ‘'Growing up in a very poor orphanage in Ukraine, there wasn't much food,' she said. 'I can go days without eating if I don't think about food. Your mind, to protect itself, learns not to pay attention to that hunger feeling. Oksana was born with legs but, due to radiation leakage from the Chernobyl disaster, they were deformed. After suffering severe pain the legs were amputated before Oksana was adopted and moved to Louisville, Kentucky. There she took up competitive rowing and soon was spending six days out of seven in the water. She recently appered in the ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue.