From Disaster to Triumph: An inspirational story of perseverance, overcoming obstacles & a gold medal winning performance
2012 Paralympic Gold Medalist Mallory Weggemann had her life changed on January 21, 2008. A routine epidural to help treat back pain left the college freshman paralyzed from the waist down. However, having been a competitive swimmer since the age of seven, she found one thing unchanged - her love for swimming. On April 8, 2008, Mallory returned to the pool, and has been breaking national and world records ever since.
Weggemann broke her first set of world records at the Can Am Speedo Para Swim Meet held in Edmonton, Alberta Canada in July 2009. Weggemann set world records in the 50m freestyle, 400m freestyle, and 100m butterfly.At the 2009 Short Course IPC Swimming World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in November 2009, Weggemann broke six more world records (50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 20 point 4x50m freestyle relay) and took home five gold medals.
In August 2010 at the Long Course IPC Swimming World Championships in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Weggemann proved herself again in the pool by taking home eight gold medals (50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 100m breaststroke, 50m butterfly, 200m individual medley, 400m freestyle relay, 400m medley relay) and one silver (100m backstroke). Weggemann finished the meet with nine World Records. The IPC wrote the following regarding Weggemann’s performance. “USA’s Mallory Weggemann (S7) was the most successful athlete of these World Championships, winning eight gold medals and breaking nine world records“.
Just days before the 2012 Paralympics, a controversial decision to move Mallory up a class left her competing against less disabled swimmers. Nonetheless, she defied the odds and won Gold in the 50m freestyle, which became one of the signature races during the Games.
- 2012 Paralympic Gold Medalist
- Currently holds 15 World Records & 33 American Records
- 2011 ESPN ESPY winner – Best Female Athlete with a Disability
- 2009, 2010 and 2011 USA Swimming Disabled Swimmer of the Year
Personal Story: Everything happens for a Reason (includes moving anecdotes from personal journal)
Mallory discusses the day in which she became paralyzed, her initial struggles to cope, and how she soon realized she now had a platform to instill change by helping others and raising awareness for swimmers with disabilities. Mallory shares a touching story of how she changed the life of a young girl who is also paralyzed --- an opportunity which allowed her to fully understand why "everything happens for a reason.”
You’re the Best, you can make a Difference, and you can Change the World
The phrase spoken to Mallory and her sisters by her father every night before they went to bed, is something which Mallory lives by today. Mallory emphasizes that everyone goes through struggles, and everyone has some sort of “disability,” some of them just not as obvious as hers. Yet, everyone has the ability to overcome their “disabilities” and make a difference (big or small) in the world.
Speaking Clip - Environmental Resource Management
Mallory Weggemann on Trans World Sport