Now that all the Phelps mania has subsided (who am I kidding, this kid is like global warming, he just keeps getting hotter) I’ve been continuing to watch the swimming portion of the Beijing Olympics. Two of my good friends swim at my university, so I’ve spent many an evening sitting in the humid bleachers cheering them on in their endeavors. Because they both are in the distance division, I’ve been looking forward to these events. Last night I was reminded as the event started, I’ve been meaning to write about Natalie du Toit ever since the last Olympics post. I’m sure many of you have read about her in the New York Times or in your local newspaper- but Natalie competed today in the Women’s Marathon 10k in Beijing today, being one of the few disabled athletes to compete in the able-bodied Olympics. I’m a sucker for these kinds of stories about overcoming obstacles and it makes me happy to see a woman with such incredible inner and physical strength she deserves. Natalie was only 17 when she lost her lower leg in a motorbike accident in her home of South Africa while preparing for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. I think it’s important (and not to mention difficult) to keep reaching for goals after facing setbacks. By never losing sight of her goal to compete in the Olympics, Natalie was back in the water after only five months. (I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but click here for the results from the race.)
I had read an article awhile back on veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq trying to return to civilian life after surviving horrific wounds that left our service men and women amputees. There has been an unprecedented increase of military men and women amputees due to the dramatic increase of medical technology that allows them to survive wounds that would been fatal in the past. IAVA, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America made a movie about six US servicemen and women who used their amputation as a starting point for athletic success. You can find more information about the unique conditions for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan here.
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