5 Amazing Athletes Who Compete With a Disability

Each and every day, we are inspired by athletes who compete at the professional level. While we admire every professional competitor, we are especially impressed by the amazing athletes who compete with disabilities. We’ve gathered up a list of five such athletes to give you a daily dose of inspiration, check them out below!

1. Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius

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Oscar Pistorius is a renowned South African runner who has set records in the Paralympics. When Oscar was 11 months old, he had both of his legs amputated below the knee due to a condition known as fibular hemimelia. Despite this large obstacle presenting itself so early on in life, Oscar persevered and went on to become an award-winning sprint runner. He became so skilled in his profession that he was even able to compete in the non-disabled Olympics. While running, Oscar would use a custom-made set of prosthetic legs that were designed with a recurved frame, allowing for maximum spring and providing an optimal angle for the contact between the road and the foot.

Oscar has traveled around the world and despite being a paraplegic, has defied the norms associated with individuals afflicted by his condition. He didn’t let cultural or social norms define him, and persevered by doing what he loved. His wide spectrum of success can be attributed to his work ethic, denial of the opposition, and forward-looking mentality. He is living proof that physical limitations will not always be the downfall of an individual’s potential, but rather a testament to their perseverance

2. Rocky Bleier

Rocky Bleier

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The story of Rocky Bleier is one of heroism, valor, and commitment. Rocky was a professional football player for the Pittsburg Steelers, and had just begun his rookie season when the Vietnam War broke out. He was drafted into service in late 1968 and was shipped off to South Vietnam with a light infantry regiment as a grenadier. While on patrol, his squad came under heavy fire and Rocky was hit in the legs by enemy shrapnel and rifle fire. Upon their rescue, Rocky was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. The injuries Rocky sustained were significant, rendering the partial loss of one foot which required multiple surgeries.

Despite these injuries, Rocky Bleier returned to football and through rigorous practice, was able to regain a place on the Pittsburg Steelers. Not only that, but he would go on to play in the Super Bowl four times, receiving a ring for each game. Rocky also retained an amazing friendship with his coach and teammates, allowing him to surround himself with people who maintained a positive attitude. Rocky has since produced several books and even a few films based on his story. He travels around the country to share his story of fortitude and courage. While his injuries may not have been something as severe as losing a limb, he still had to overcome the challenge of playing professional football with shrapnel wounds and only part of one foot.

3. Jim Abbott

Jim Abbott

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Jim Abbott is another great example of someone who didn’t let their disability get in the way of their athletic profession and love for their sport. Being born without a right hand would most likely be a large hindrance to playing any sport, but that didn’t stop Jim. He went on to play in the college baseball scene, all the way up into the New York Yankees. He became one of the best left-handed pitchers in the entire league and scored a grand total of 888 strikeouts against opposing batters. Not only did Jim Abbott make it all the way to the major league without a right hand, but he did so without playing in a single minor league game. He honed his skills with what he had, something we all should strive to do.

Jim grew up in Flint Michigan and attended high school and college in his home state. He never let his disability get in the way of his passion, and honed his pitching skill with his left hand. He even learned how to catch using a mitt and his right forearm. During his time in the major leagues, players on the opposing team would actually try to exploit his weakness by bunting the ball in order to prevent him from catching the ball and throwing to the base players. This tactic was ineffective, and he continued to make double plays throughout his career. He later went on to write an autobiography and titled it “Imperfect: An Improbable Life”, and it outlines the struggles and obstacles he had to overcome in order to become as successful as he was in the MLB.

4. Kyle Maynard

Kyle Maynard

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When it comes to an all-rounded athlete, no name better encompasses all facets of the term than Kyle Maynard. Kyle played high school football, wrestled, knows martial arts, has fought in MMA fights, does CrossFit, lifts weights, and has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. With a repertoire like that, it would be wise to assume that Kyle was some sort of bodybuilder or Olympian, and you wouldn’t think of someone who was a quadriplegic. Kyle Maynard was born with a rare condition that reduced the ability of his tendons to grow with his limbs, rendering him with virtually no arms or legs. That hasn’t stopped him at all, and he continues to defy the common stereotypes associated with people in his situation.

Kyle has never let any outside force stop him, and has proved himself in the gym, on the field, and in the ring. He constantly pushes the limits of his body and strives to motivate others to do the same. He runs his own CrossFit gym in Georgia and was the first quadriplegic to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro without the aid of prosthetics. He made the climb with a team made up of U.S. military veterans who suffered from injuries during combat. He also donated some of the proceeds that were directed towards the climb to a school for the blind and various veteran-oriented organizations. There are not many people who can claim that they have done half the things that Kyle has done, and those people have arms and legs. It just goes to show you that it takes heart, not limbs.

5. Bethany Hamilton

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This name may be familiar to many readers, but if not, this is quite a motivational story. Bethany Hamilton is a professional surfer and had been surfing her entire life. Tragedy struck in 2003, while surfing in an area highly populated with sea turtles, a large tiger shark bit off Bethany’s left arm. After she was rushed to shore and stabilized at the hospital, she began the recovery process. Many people told her that she would never surf again. Of course, that was not an answer she was willing to accept and she continued to excel at her sport. She even had a movie produced about her, title “Soul Surfer”, which depicts the fortitude and determination she displayed in order to return to surfing. She never displayed a negative attitude and kept her eyes on the prize.

She has won various awards and has been mentioned on many newscasts and books. She didn’t do it for the fame, however, and for a short while there was the question of whether or not she would even survive, but like many of the other athletes on this list, she pulled through and continued to do what she loved. She was back on the board only one month after the incident, showing the world that she didn’t fear the water or the creatures that inhabited it.