Disabilities in the Olympics

Learn more about inspiring people

By: Amie Patel

Venturing Through Dreams

Do you know who Olivér Halassy and Marla Runyan are? Well, if you don't they are two courageous people, who have exceeded to the Olympics with a disability. Both of these ambitious people have a similar and different story.

Olivér Halassy, at the age of 8, had lost his left leg below the knee after a tragic accident with a tram. Even though he lost a part of his leg; he still worked hard, went to the Olympics. Halassy was one of the first physically disabled athlete at the Summer Olympic games. At the games, he had won one silver medal and two gold medals.

Marla Runyan had developed stargardt's disease, making her legally blind. Although Runyan, lost her vision, she still continued with school and graduated from San Diego University. While attending school, she had joined many running events. Eventually, her passion for running lead to the Olympics Games. She had placed eight in the event she participated in. Even though Runyan did not reach the highest place in the Olympics or did win a medal, she still holds many American records from different running events.

Although both of them had disabilities they were different, Halassy had a amputated leg, while Runyan was blind. Runyan developed her disability, yet Halassy was in a accident. Not only they had disabilities but they both had a passion for reaching the Olympics and to play the sport they love. They did not let any obstacle get in the way of there dreams and achieving an ultimate goal.

It is useful to learn about these heroic individuals. They can play an important role in developing child's personality and a child can be inspired to try new things. I personally had to persevere through a rough patch when I was playing volleyball. For example, I hurt my wrist and it was very painful but I still kept on playing with my hand/wrist because I did not want to disappoint my team-mates. Every individual has to deal with different types of obstacles in life, but it is up to an individual how to over come an obstacle and make a positive change.





Proceed On

"Snap!" There you hear a noise of George Eyser's legs being torn up into pieces while being ran over by a train. You may think George Eyser's life is over at the moment, but you guessed wrong, Eyser has earned six Olympic medals.

George Eyser was born in Germany in the year of 1870. He and his family had immigrated to the United States of America in 1884. While coming to the U.S., Eyser was trying to achieve the American dream by being a bookkeeper. He soon realized being book-keeper was not for him and he had passion for sports. During this time, a German sport was brought to America called Turnverein. Turnverein is a sport that includes tumbling, a vaulting horse, and athletic maneuvers on bars. This sport seemed to interest George Eyser. But, a tragic car accident almost ruined his dream of becoming a professional Turnverein. Eyser had been ran over by a train, causing him to have his left leg amputated, leaving him with a wooden leg. Instead of resting, he ventured on by working and training his upper body to take the heat, since his left leg was now wooden. After practicing and practicing he had finally reached the Olympics of 1904. Having a few bad performances, Eyser had brought his game back. All in the same day he had won 6 medals; three gold, two silver, and one bronze.

After accomplishing his goals, he has personally become an inspirational person. A personal thing I can relate to is when I watch all the autistic kids in school moving on with their lives. Even though their not physically disabled they still are mentally ill. All in all, no matter what had happened to George Eyser, he still proceeded on with his life and made the best of it.




Less than 2%

Imagine one day you are working at your daily job, thinking your life is getting better and better. You have no worries. Until one day you come home feeling sick like it's the normal flu. By night, you get even more sicker, so you decide to go to the hospital. While at the hospital you are diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Well you are quite lucky because you are only imagining this, but for Amy Purdy it was a true reality.

Amy Purdy was residing in Las Vegas, Nevada. Living, doing, and dreaming like a normal teenager would do. For example, loving to snowboard. But, one day Purdy; a massage therapist, decided to come home early from her job since she felt like she had the flu. It was something more then the flu. She ended up going to the hospital and there she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. While being in the hospital, she had less then two percent chance of surviving. In order to live, they would have to amputate her two legs below the knee and remove kidneys . Luckily her loving father gave her one of his kidney. She ended up surviving, but that wasn't the end of her story. While recovering, she wanted to get right back to snowboarding. After she recovered, she tried snowboarding but there were no prosthetic leg that would work so she made her own. From then on she had tried new things. For example, like going to the Paralympic Games and winning a bronze medal, writing a book and acting. From here on, her life turned in a positive direction.

Although she had a problem, she found many solutions. I personally can relate to this because I hurt my foot once and I was eager to get back into playing volleyball. No matter what problem Purdy came across, she found a solution and kept on going with what she loved the most.





Not to Late

Have you ever gotten really sick before, thinking your life might be over? But, instead of being stuck in the moment you try to pursue you dream. Well, Lis Hartel has. She had been paralyzed due to polio and still became and Olympic athlete.

Lis Hartel had lived a normal childhood, riding a horse. She had married a man you had the same passion as she did. But, she still had been competing in dressage and jumping competitions. A year before winning the Danish dressage championships, she had her first child, Pernille. During pregnancy of her second child, polio had struck Lis Hartel. There was no vaccine to cure polio at the time. Which led her to being paralyzed from knee down. Through hard work and determination, she had regained the use of most of her muscles. After working for three years trying to regain her strength back, Hartel started to ride again. Lis Hartel was one of the first women to compete against men in the Olympic Games. Still being paralyzed knee down, during the Olympic Games Hartel had won a silver medal, with her horse Jubilee. After this, she still kept on competing.

Although the cause of polio led to Lis Hartel being paralyzed, she was determined to get started again with horse back riding. I personally can relate to this when I see all these people who are disabled and they keep on trying to do whatever there passion is. In conclusion, no matter what the effect is of your cause, you should never be stuck in the moment.





Imagine you had a passion for swimming. All of a sudden something had occurred causing you to lose one of your legs. Now would you or would you not proceed on with swimming? Well Natalie du Toit still kept on swimming even with just one leg.

Being dragged to watch her brother swim, Natalie de Toit never really like the water, not even putting her feet in. While watching her brother train, the thought of her being able to swim came up. So, she tried to swim; the first thing she swam was the butterfly. As growing up she seemed to be a swimming star. At the age of 12 she started competing internationally. The age of 16 she had tried out for the Sydney 2000 Olympic team, but had nearly missed the spot. Although she hadn't made the 2000 Olympic team, people had suspected she would make the 2004 Olympics in Athens. While training for the next Olympics, a tragic accident occurred. Toit was riding her scooter when a car had hit her causing to have her left leg amputated. It took her nine months to start walking again. Eager to getting back in the water, she would ask her doctor all the time. When she would be able to get back in the water. She felt she would be able to swim with on leg. Although it still took some practice, Natalie du Toit was eventually awarded with gold medals at the Paralympics and Commonwealth games and also being awarded wight the "Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability." These medals and awards show how much courage she had when she was still swimming with an amputated leg.

Even though Natalie du Toit had an accident, leaving her leg to be amputated she was combative. A real world problem this can be related to is when someone gets hurt, but they still continue on with their goal. All in all no matter how hurt you are you should still continue with your goals.




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