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Paralympic Heroes and the Woman Who Won 55 Medals

Updated on August 6, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years of successful experience in medicine, psychology, STEM courses, and aerospace education (CAP).

Heroes are More Than an Arm or a Leg

Australian Gliders member Amber Merritt at the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games. The Gliders beat Team USA in the semi finals and placed second to German to win the Silver Medal for Australia.
Australian Gliders member Amber Merritt at the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games. The Gliders beat Team USA in the semi finals and placed second to German to win the Silver Medal for Australia. | Source

The Summer Paralympic Games of London 2012 experienced tremendously increased numbers of athletes. That year, 4,200 individual athletes registered to participate in the Paralympics 2012 sports, with the numbers of enrollment for women significantly higher than ever before. At least 175 nations entered the Rio 2016 Paralympics with over 4,000 athletes, not counting the banned Russian team.

Simply Unstoppable

More Medals Than Michael Phelps

As spectator and media interest grows with advancing athlete participation in these games, the world hopes that TV stations will want to broadcast the their outside their host nations more often. This happened with the "regular" Olympic Games, setting television and Internet viewing records in 2012. Some highlight recaps scheduled are listed further below.

US Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, wounded, injured, and now amputees use the Paralympics training as rehabilitation and their accomplishments are showcased in these sporting events.

If you are aware of the London 2012 Summer Olympics, then you likely know about Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee that ran with able-bodied men in the 4 x 400m relay. He went straight on to the Summer Paralympics to continue running during the events of August 29 to September 9, 2012. He did not compete at Rio 2016.

Before Pistorius of South Africa, however, Ronan Tynan was a double amputee of the same type of disability who also competed in the Paralympics (1980 - 1988). Tynan won 25 medals total: 22 Gold Medals, 2 Silver Medals and 1 Bronze Medal in Track and Field Athletics. He also set 14 World Records. As of 2016, this tops the overall wins of swimmer Michael Phelps so far.

Today, Dr. Tynan not only is a physician of orthopedic sports Injuries, but also a member of the famous Irish Tenors group. Thus, the courage and determination of the people involved in Paralympic Games produces other accomplishments in addition to sports records.

Credit: seasmus's channel - YouTube, standard license.

The Long Awaited Event

The event that people were itching to see in 2012 was the T44 (arm or leg impairment) Men's 100m Final with Oscar Pistorius. It was held September 6 in London Olympic Stadium. A good turnout of spectators showed up to see:

Oscar Pistorius (RSA), Jerome Singleton (USA), and Jonnie Peacock (GBR)

  • Pistorius beat Singleton for Gold in Beijing, but Singleton beat Pistorius in a photo-finish in the 2011 World Championships. However, Peacock broke Oscar’s World Record.
  • Pistorius did not win the event, the Gold Medal of which went to Jonnie Peacock.

Oscar Pistorius Makes Sports History

Although Oscar Pistorius did not medal in his Paralympics event, he made history as the first person globally to enter both the Olympics and Paralymics during the same summer. He will always be known for this feat.

Awesome Skills!

Highest Mountains in Britain

Double Leg-Amputees Can Run Marathons

The Paralympics Press Packet tells us that GBR'sRichard Whitehead, as of 2012, is the World Record holder for the marathon, half marathon and 200m. He made history in 2009 as the first leg amputee to complete a marathon in under 3 hours! He has broken the World Record for the 200m as well.

Can you imagine running a marathon on Cheetah Legs? At the Chicago Marathon his time was 2:42:52. This is about 30 minutes longer than the ratified men's able-bodied World Record set in Berlin in 2011 by Patrick Macau (Kenya) at 2:03:38.

In 2012, Whitehead's events are the 200m and the marathon.

Wheelchair athletes compete in a marathon as well and the World's Record is 1:18:27, set by Ernst van Dyck in the Boston Marathon of 2004. No wheelchair marathon has been included in the Paralympics yet.

Plenty of racing events exist in Paralympic Wheelchair competition as well as in foot races for men and women, including our military veterans.

US Military Program

Credit: USParalympics1 on YouTube, standard license.

How the Blind Can Lead

Trischa Zorn
Trischa Zorn | Source

Top Winner 1980 - 2004

Trischa Zorn Hudson is blind since birth. She was inducted into the Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2012.

A Woman Who Has 55 Medals

Television coverage of the 2012 Paralympics was wider than during previous games, but was still limited outside the United Kingdom. Some events were offered online at the CHANNEL 4 website and its videos on YouTube.

At Rio 2016, all of this media coverage multiplied to provide the world with wider and more varied views of the jaw dropping achievements possible for physically challenged athletes.

We are more than a leg or an eye!

A record number of women signed up to compete at the 2012 Paralympics. This added to the larger role of women in sports at the 2012 Olympics, which saw women athletes from every entered country represented for the first time.

It is a blind female swimmer from USA that has won 55 medals at her Paralympics entries from 1980 - 2004. By the end of the 2012 games, her record for accumulated wins was still undefeated.

This winner is Trischa Zorn, with 41 Gold, 9 Silver, and 5 bronze awards in 7 Paralympics Games between 1980 at Arnhem, Netherlands and 2004 at Athens, Greece.

Today she is Trischa Zorn Hudson, an attorney and has had successful implantation of two artificial irises to restore partial sight.

She is Executive Director of the Indiana Pro-Bono Commission and works with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to help returning soldiers adjust to civilian life.

Today's Hope for the Blind

The NRTC is the only U.S. Department of Education-funded national center focused on employment outcomes of persons with blindness or low vision.

Other Blind Heroes

Ian Sharpe's Paralympian: Blind Swimming and Cycling

Ian Sharpe is the Isle of Man's most successful Paralympian. Visually impaired, he switched from swimming to cycling and trained for the 2012 Paralympics. This collection of his memorabilia is at the Manx Museum in Douglas.
Ian Sharpe is the Isle of Man's most successful Paralympian. Visually impaired, he switched from swimming to cycling and trained for the 2012 Paralympics. This collection of his memorabilia is at the Manx Museum in Douglas. | Source

Even Blind BMX Comepetitions

CREDITS: London 2012 at YouTube, standard license -- Welcome to the official channel of the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games. Come behind the scenes in the build up to the Games, hear from the athletes as they prepare, see exclusive venue footage and more!

Paralympics Timeline

© 2012 Patty Inglish MS

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I feel the same way, so thanks for the support, bdegiulio!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Patty, I really wish they would give the paralympics the same coverage that they gave to the summer Olympics. These folks work so hard to get to where they are and deserve the same accolades that able-bodied athletes receive. Maybe over time this will change. Thank you for this terrific Hub, really enjoyed the videos.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      It gives us something to think about, surely!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      6 years ago from Jamaica

      I too will be checking out Youtube, I really can't miss this, it's too special. These people motivate me to be a better person. I think able bodied people take their abilities for granted. These people have to work extra hard to accomplish stuff, that's why they excel so much.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Oscar brought a lot of attention to the Paralympics by participating in the Olympics. What the Paralympians accomplish makes my jaw drop open and I watch the videos over and over.

      Can any of us, friends, really imagine 51 medals? Trischa Zorn was born with no irises. I'm blown away. I've worked with some legally blind and even deaf students in Taekwondo, but nothing like Trischa. And it took guts to take a chance on artificial irises and to complete law school. I am spellbound by her and Oscar and our wounded warriors.

      The film Battleship features a man, a main character, with prosthetic legs and this is encouraging, whether it was real or CGI, as with Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump.

      I'll be watching the YouTube channel mentioned the the Hub and hope that the Paralympics publishes a DVD!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      6 years ago from Jamaica

      Reading this, my heart kept doing summersaults! This is amazing. I love watching Oscar run and is always amazed that he can run faster than some able-bodied men, but I never really stopped to check out the Paralympics. These men and women are so amazing, they make me look like a dork...lol. As an able bodied female I couldn't walk in some of their shoes, I admire them so much. I hope we will be broadcasting some of the events.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Awesome! I am glad you published this. I didn't realize there was a seperate week of games for paraolympics. These people are real heroes. Outstanding hub!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

      Wow! How incredible! This just goes to show that we all have challenges to face, some more "seemingly" difficult than others. But, you can overcome your challenges in the right mindset. These people are incredible and also remind us that no matter the lemons that life hands us, it's our responsibility to make lemonade. Awesome hub and very inspirational. I didn't really know much about the Paralympics before this hub, and I hope I can see some coverage of it - it's coming right up! :D

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      That sounds very very exciting! The Paralympics are gaining more attention each time and I am happy about that.

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 

      6 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      I'm South African and of course we are very proud of Oscar. We also have personal friends from my son competing so we are really looking forward to it

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for the recommendation fro Murderball! There is a lot going on in the physically challenged sports world!

    • Lwelch profile image

      Lena Welch 

      6 years ago from USA

      Awesome! I learned about these while in school for occupational therapy. I have watched the movie Murderball. It is about our wheelchair rugby team. I really wish they had more airtime as I bet people would watch. The iPad olympic app looks like it will have everything, but it isn't really edited (at least for traditional games it wasn't). So, not as good as Bob Costas and NBC.

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