Disabilities do not have to be a limitation in one’s life for there are those who see such limitations as stepping stones to greatness. A chance to strive for more and accomplish what many only dream of. These brave men and women faced what most would consider an unbearable sentence and triumphed over mediocrity. Here is a list of five athletes who made it to greatness despite health challenges.


Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph as she was fondly called, was at a time the fastest woman in the world and 3 times olympic gold medalist. These achievements didn’t come so easily as Rudolph was at the age of 4 paralyzed, due to the polio virus. She also suffered from other child hood illnesses including pneumonia and scarlet fever. She however recovered from polio, but lost strength in her right leg and foot.

Physically disabled for much of her early life, Rudolph wore a leg brace until she was eight years old. With the help of her family and doctors, Rudolph scaled through the trying times and in 1960 at the age of 20, that once paralyzed leg was named the fastest in the world.

She however, died on November 12, 1994, at the age of 54 after suffering from brain cancer.


Marla Lee Runyan

Only 11 athletes in history have competed in both the olympic and paralympic games. Marla Runyan is the only one of those athletes to come from the United States.

Originally from Santa Maria, California, Runyan had stargardt disease, a degeneration of the retina that left her with a hole in the center of her vision, which means her eyesight is no better than 20/400 and she is legally blind.

Out of all the numerous sports and careers to choose from, Runyan chose to be a sprinter. As a sprinter, Runyan began her international sports career by focusing on events specifically for visually impaired athletes and was highly successful . She won 4 gold medals at the Barcelona 1992 paralympic games.

This great icon was not satisfied being a champion in an event for only the physically challenged, she wanted more. She however qualified for the Sydney 2000 olympic games and finished eight in the 1500 meters event. Runyan became the first blind athlete in history, to ever compete in the olympics.

The hardest for her about taking part in the olympic games wasn’t necessarily her competition, she said, but rather not being able to see the clock or the lap counter.

She closed her career on the international stage by representing the United States in the 5000 meter at the Athens 2004 olympic games, a year before having her first child at age 36.


Cristiano Ronaldo

Arguably one of the greatest players of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo has carved a niche for himself in the football world. Ronaldo is known to be a very hardworking player who has improved more on himself over the years, but not many know that Christiano Ronaldo once fought heart disease as a young boy.

Ronaldo was only fifteen years of age when the doctors diagnosed him of some heart problem. His heart beat was more than normal even when he was resting. In broader medical terms he had tachycardia that is having a heart beat greater than normal. He played in the Sporting CP Soccer Club at that time. This is a common problem but a serious one for those who play. The condition can get worse if not treated as there can be unexpected seizures, loss of consciousness and even a heart attack. Many players in the past died of heart attacks on the fields.

This condition would have been a hindrance for him to play. He got himself treated for this issue. It was confirmed by Christiano Ronaldo’s mother that he had undergone a treatment for the cure of his abnormal heart condition. Christiano Ronaldo was treated with catheter ablation. In this treatment, through the leg of the patient a wire is inserted and the area of the heart that causes the problem is determined. Then a catheter is inserted and the problematic area is heated to fix it.

But soon after his treatments, Ronald was back with a bang. He resumed playing a few days later. This is the sign of a true player. No matter what he had gone through in the past, he is one of the most successful soccer players of his time. He has set an example for the young boys who might have a similar condition and are football lovers. If he had not shown strength at that young age it might have been the end of his football career. It has been said rightly that where there is a will, there is a way.


Baxter Humby

Baxter Humby wasn’t born without one of his hands, but he had to have his right one amputated at birth below the elbow after it got entangled with the umbilical cord. Even so, the Winnipeg native’s accomplishments have been many.

Humby began competing in martial arts at 17 and, already an accomplished runner, competed for the Canadian Paralympic National Track Team in 1992 and in 1994. Two years later, he won the Canadian Super Welterweight Kickboxing Championship.

To this day, Humby remains the only kick boxer who has ever won a world title with one hand and still remains the IMTC World Super Welterweight Champion. He was also the WBC Super Welterweight National Champion in 2010.

Humby hasn’t limited himself to work in the ring: He served as Tobey McGwire’s stunt double in Spider-Man 3.


Tatyana Mcfadden

The list of medals garnered by Tatyana McFadden throughout the course of her Paralympic career is daunting; it’s that long.

The Russian born wheelchair basketball and track competitor participated for the U.S. in four Paralympic Games and in the 2013 World Championships, reeling in 16 medals, including nine golds.

McFadden was born with spina bifida, which left her paralyzed from the waist down at birth. Her mother abandoned her, and the orphanage in which she lived for the first six years of her life didn’t have the money to afford a wheelchair, so she walked on her hands.

She was adopted by Deborah McFadden, a commissioner of disabilities for the U.S. Health Department, and she began a new life in Baltimore in which she participated in a variety of sports, including gymnastics, wheelchair basketball and track and field.

In her first competition at age eight; the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, she meddled twice and hasn’t slowed down since. She also won both the Boston and the London marathons in 2013, both of which occurred in the period of one week.

These are people who did not let their physical or health challenges hinder their goals and dreams, so while you are physically fit and sometimes feel entitled, think of these guys.

Have a positive health attitude.

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