Saturday, 8 March 2014

International Paralympic Women

To celebrate today’s International Women’s Day and the start of the Paralympic Games here’s a look at the lgbt Paralympians. The only known male Paralympian is Lee Pearson, the UK equestrian rider. I’m sure he won’t mind if I concentrate on the female athletes today.

There are 7 in all, but there’s one athlete I’ll only list and not give details. This athlete is Kathleen Rose Winter, and I wrote an article about her achievements last year. I’ll deal with the remaining 6 athletes in order of their first Paralympic appearance.

Kathleen Rose Winter (1956-2008)
USA     athletics, fencing, powerlifting
1992 Barcelona           (athletics)
1996 Atlanta                (fencing)
2000 Sydney               (powerlifting)

Jen Armbruster
USA                 goalball
1992 Barcelona
1996 Atlanta                bronze
2000 Sydney
2004 Athens                silver
2008 Beijing                gold
2012 London
Jen has competed in more Paralympics than any other lgbt athlete. An inflamed optic nerve caused her to lose her sight by the age of 17 when she competed in her first Paralympics. She got involved in goalball at the suggestion of someone from the Colorado School of the Deaf and Blind. Jen’s first medal was a bronze in Atlanta 1996. At the Sydney games in 2000 she was joined on the team by Asya Miller, whom she married in 2007. In 2004 they won the silver medal, and at the Beijing Paralympics of 2008 Jen, now team captain, also carried her national flag at the opening ceremony. The team went on to win gold. Jen returned as team captain at the London games but failed to pass the preliminary round.

Hope Lewellen
USA                 sitting volleyball and wheelchair tennis
1996 Atlanta                silver (tennis)
2000 Sydney
2004 Athens                bronze (volleyball)
2008 Beijing                silver (volleyball)
Hope lost a leg in 1989 when she was an aircraft mechanic – a 767 rolled over both legs. She took up wheelchair tennis and entered her first Paralympic Games in 1996 in both the singles and doubles tournaments. She didn’t make it to the singles quarter-finals but with Nancy Olson won silver in the doubles. In Sydney 2000 Hope failed to reach the quarter-finals in either. She still coaches in wheelchair tennis, but her last 2 Paralympic appearances have been on the US sitting volleyball team in 2004 and 2008, winning a bronze medal both times. Hope was a supporter of the Chicago bid to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and in 2012 she founded Challenge Boxing NFP, which coaches people with disabilities in boxing.

Asya Miller
USA                 discus and goalball
2000 Sydney               bronze (discus)
2004 Athens                silver (goalball)
2008 Beijing                gold (goalball)
2012 London
Asya has competed in several different sports – powerlifting, karate, and her 2 Paralympic sports, goalball and discus. She has a genetic condition called Stargardt’s Disease which causes progressive loss of vision. Asya began her competitive career in athletics and in her first Paralympics won bronze in the discus. In Sydney she also competed in goalball and was more successful with this in later games, winning silver in 2004 and gold in 2008. Asya was also on the US goalball team that became Para Pan-American champions in 2011, at which she was her national flag carrier at the opening ceremony. She also competes internationally in her other sports, becoming World Powerlifting Champion 3 times, and javelin champion at the Para Pan-American Games. In 2007 Asya married fellow US goalball team captain Jen Armbruster.

Danielle Peers
Canada           wheelchair basketball
2004 Athens                bronze
Danielle was captain of her college basketball team. After being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy she continued to play and earned a place on the national wheelchair basketball team. Her only Paralympic appearance saw her lose in the semi-final to USA (who had fellow Paralympic debutante Stephanie Wheeler on their team), who went on to win gold. Danielle retired in 2008 but not before being on the gold-medal-winning Edmonton Inferno team that won the Canadian Women’s National Championships 5 times, and on the Canadian team that won the 2006 World Championships. Danielle is a National Ambassador for Muscular Dystrophy Canada. She carried the Olympic torch in the Vancouver 2010 relay.

Stephanie Wheeler
USA                 wheelchair basketball
2004 Athens                gold
2008 Beijing                gold
A car accident at the age of 6 left Stephanie paralysed from the waist down. It was someone in the waiting room of her doctor’s surgery who suggested she have a go at wheelchair basketball. Stephanie was 12 and she threw herself into the sport, gaining a place on the regional team. She went on to win 3 national championships with the Illinois State team. She made the national team in 2001 who won silver in the 2002 World Championships and gold in the Para Pan-American games of 2007. In both of Stephanie’s Paralympic appearances she has won gold, and topped off her competitive career in 2010 by winning gold at the World Championships. In 2011 she coached the US Under-25 women’s team to a gold medal.

Claire Harvey
GB      sitting volleyball
2012 London
Claire was an active athlete before a motor accident in 2008 paralysed one leg and impaired her sight. She had played on several rugby teams and found that sitting volleyball filled the void in her sporting life. Within 2 years she had made the national sitting volleyball team and made the London 2012 home team. Unfortunately, GB came last. Claire also acted as an official Ambassador for London’s Pride House, and was a supporter of the London bid to host the 2018 Gay Games. She is also operations manager for the British Deaf Women’s Football. Team.

No comments:

Post a Comment