Being a top-tier athlete is nothing to underestimate. Being a top-level athlete while living with a disability? That’s inspiring on a whole other level.
Paralympic athletes, or those who have competed in the Paralympic games, have a myriad of physical, intellectual, or visual impairments, and a whole lot of persistence.
Looking to get inspired? Many of these athletes chronicle their lives on Instagram, including daily practices, family time, and competition prep. Come along for the ride and check out these Paralympians with accounts that inspire.
1. Kelly Cartwright (@kellycartwright)
Australian Paralympian racer, motivational speaker, and mom Kelly Cartwright has a large following on Instagram. She fills her ‘gram daily with posts of workouts, babies, home life, and everything in between. Cartwright, whose leg was amputated due to an aggressive form of cancer in her right knee when she was 15, turned pain into triumph by learning to run on her prosthetic leg. Be sure to follow her incredible and inspiring story.
2. Kurt Fearnley (@kurtfearnleyinsta)
Another Aussie Paralympian racer, Kurt Fearnley is a three-time gold medalist who has won the New York, London, and Chicago marathons. He was born without the lower portion of his spine and started racing at age 14. He published his biography, “Pushing the Limits,” in 2014. Online, he motivates his followers with photos of his speaking engagements, fellow competitors, and more.
3. Lex Gillette (@lexgillette)
Athlete, singer-songwriter, and motivational speaker Lex Gillette is a Paralympic track and field world champion and world record holder in the long jump. He has persevered despite two detached retinas having left him blind since childhood. His motto, “No need for sight when you have a vision,” speaks for itself. His sense of humor also shines through on his page.
4. Tatyana McFadden (@tatyanamcfaddenusa)
Tatyana McFadden has 17 Paralympic medals. She was born with spina bifida and spent the first six years of her life in a Russian orphanage. She was adopted by then-Commissioner of Disabilities for the U.S. Department of Health, Deborah McFadden. She has since become a world-class competitor and has won 16 major marathons. When she isn’t racing, she keeps busy in other ways. McFadden is a national advocate for equal access for people with disabilities, a lifetime member of the Girls Scouts, and a member of the Board of Directors of Spina Bifida of Illinois. On top of that, she speaks to children and adults about healthy living. You go, lady!
5. Alana Nichols (@alanathejane)
Alpine skiing, basketball, and sprint kayaking Paralympic athlete Alana Nichols is a three-time gold medalist. She transitioned to adaptive sports at the age of 17 when a snowboarding accident injured her spinal cord. She’s an advocate for sporting opportunities for girls and women and is a self-proclaimed “adventurer,” proven by her Instagram posts that are sure to inspire.