7 Inspirational Action Sports Athletes That Have Overcome Disabilites
It just goes to show, nothing should stop you from achieving your goals
All athletes have to deal with injuries at some point. Some put them out of their sport for a few weeks, others maybe a year. Anyone who has ever been in that position will understand how soul-destroying it is sitting on a sofa, watching endless re-runs of Come Dine With Me and having to always ask someone else to make you a cup of tea.
However, nothing really compares to those who've suffered a life-changing injury. Being told you'll never walk again is a whole new obstacle to overcome.
We've put together videos from seven inspirational riders with disabilities who've perservered when the going's got really tough, all in pursuit of what they love.
From climbing Mt. Everest blind to sit-skiing California's gnarly Bloody Couloir to performing the first double backflip in a wheelchair, these lads and ladies are unbelievably inspiring.
[part title="Aaron Fotheringham"]
Aaron Fotheringham set out to prove that wheelchairs aren't just medical devices. "They're just wheels stuck to my butt. How can that not be fun?!"
Aaron was born with spina bifida, a spinal defect that means he can't use his legs. Rather than watching his brother cruise around on his BMX in the skatepark, he decided to ride his chair around the park as well.
Now he rides a customised WCMX lightweight wheelchair with four-wheel suspension that allows him to ride and pull stunts like a skater or BMX rider. This allowed him to be the first person to successfully complete a backflip in a wheelchair aged 14 and a DOUBLE backflip aged 18.
Aaron joined the Nitro Circus Live Tour in 2010 so he travels the world hucking his signature flips off 50-ft ramps. Absolutely mental!
[part title="Kurt Yaeger"]
Kurt Yaeger is a sponsored BMX rider who lost his lower leg in a motorcycle accident, after a car ran him off the road, over a 40-foot embankment and he crashed landed on the side of a motorway.
After 28 surgeries and months of rehab, he's back riding his BMX and motorbike with a prosthetic leg while pushing his acting career on the side.
His amazing story was captured by drum n bass group Rudimental in their music video, Waiting All Night featuring Ella Eyre. Check it out above!
[part title="Evan Strong"]
He's the first man to ever win a Paralympic gold medal in snowboarding, but Evan Strong wasn't always an international competitor.
Back in 2004, just before his eighteenth brithday, Evan was knocked off his motorbike and like Kurt Yaeger, had his left leg amputated below the knee. He was hoping to be a pro skater.
Undeterred by injury, Evan went on to train as a para-snowboarder, quickly rising the ranks to join Team USA in World Cup comps around the globe.
When it comes to competing, the guy's unstoppable. Aside from being a para-snowboard Paralympic champion, he skated in the 2007 Summer X Games Extremity event and won the mountain bike Livewire Classic in 2012.
Definitely not the kind of guy who lets physical obstacles get him down!
[part title="Tommy Carroll"]
Tommy Carroll is a better than your average skater. However, this all the more significant because Tommy developed retinal cancer and has been blind since the age of 2.
However, he discovered his love of skating at 10-years-old and hasn't looked back. Tommy navigates his way around the skatepark by sound, using his highly-tuned senses to listen to his wheels, determine the park terrain and avoid collisions.
The legendary Tony Hawk heard of Tommy's dedication to skating back in 2012 and flew over to his home skatepark in Glenview, Illinois to spend the day skating with him.
It's really cool to see Tommy shredding the bowl despite the difficulties and discouragement he's come up against.
As he says at the end of his video, "I think everybody should know that everything happens for a reason and that there’s always a way to overcome an obstacle if you really want it enough."
[part title="Bethany Hamilton"]
If your arm was bitten off by a shark while surfing, the chances are you wouldn't be getting back in the water any time soon.
Not Bethany Hamilton. In 2003, she was out surfing with her friend Alana Blanchard when she was attacked by a 15ft tiger shark. Luckily she survived but lost her left arm.
Not surfing after the accident just wasn't an option in Bethany's mind. Only a month later, she was back on a new custom made board with a handle to help her paddle.
She went on to compete in the major NSSA comps before coming 3rd in the 2008 Roxy Pro, 2nd in the ASP Junior World Champs 2009 and 1st in Surf n Sea Pipeline Womens Pro earlier this year.
Now, there's a Hollywood film made about Bethany's accident and her inspirational journey to recovery called Soul Surfer, starring Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt.
[part title="Erik Weihenmayer"]
Only 118 people in history have ever climbed all seven of world's highest summits. Erik Weihenmayer is one of them - except he's done it blind.
How does he scale such treacherous peaks? Amazing new technology allows camera images to be fed through wire and translated into vibrations through a mouth sensors that tickles Erik's tongue. The patterns formed by this mouth sensors allow Erik to gain a sense of the space around him. And therefore climb rock faces.
Alongside being the only blind person to ever climb Mt. Everest, Erik enjoys paragliding, kayaking, skiing, cycling and even solo skydiving. Unbelievable.
[part title="Jeremy McGhee"]
Jeremy McGhee is a surfer and rider from California who broke his back in a motorbike accident in 2001 and was left paralysed from the waist down. He didn’t lose his passion for sport, so decided to push himself by starting the Drop In Project.
As the name suggests, Drop In is Jeremy encouraging everyone to do the unfathomable by taking on a series of seemingly impossible tasks.
These include diving with Great White sharks, mountain biking through the Bolivian rainforest, surfing Indo, and helisking in Alaska – all as a paraplegic athlete.
Just check out this teaser for his first challenge – climbing California’s iconic Bloody Couloir and riding down it.
At 2,500ft long with a 50 degree pitch, tackling this couloir isn’t easy even when you have the use of your legs. An amazing feat!