Nancy Burpee, Paralympic Swimming Champion

Nancy Burpee, suffers from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a genetic disease which causes deterioration of the connective tissues of her body.

At an early age, Nancy experienced health problems that would daunt most of us, but her steadfast resolve and competitive nature have brought her through a myriad of broken bones and other illnesses. Since the 9th grade, she has had more than 20 surgeries, and was told she would be wheel-chair bound by the age of 30. So far, that prediction has not come true.

Even though her disease was not diagnosed until she was 30, she experienced many injuries during an active sports life as she grew up. Swimming, which she began at 18 months of age, is one of the things she can still do, and she does it very well. So well, in fact, that she has won many awards and has competed in national and international meets, including the Summer Paralympic games held in conjunction with the regular Olympics.

Even breast cancer leading to a mastectomy did not stop Nancy from pursuing her goals, and she is a real inspiration to other athletes with disabilities

Unfortunately, Nancy was disqualified from the Athens, Greece Paralympics in 2004, on the grounds that there was a technical problem over which category she should have competed in. Ms. Burpee, feeling that there was favoritism on the part of the Australian judge, disagreed and hired an attorney to represent her in filing a protest against the ruling, but an independent arbitrator in the case decided against her.

Athletes who compete in the Paralympic Games are divided into categories, according to the particular physical disability of each. Some enter in the wheelchair division; others in the Amputee, Vision-impaired, Cerebral Palsy, or Deformity categories.

Summer Paralympic sports include wheelchair sports such as tennis, basketball, and , rugby, water sports such as sailing, rowing, and swimming, and even a few sports usually deemed impossible for the handicapped, such as Judo, Fencing, Cycling, and Equestrian.

As you might imagine, this event is extremely important to handicapped athletes. Even though her disqualification from the event in Greece stands, you can bet that Nancy Burpee will be back for the 2008 Summer Paralympic Games in Beiging, China. Keep your sports channel tuned so you won’t miss it.

To read more about this young woman’s amazing career, go to: www.foot.com/info/ai_interview033.jsp

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