Three-time paralympian Chelsea McClammer's death-defying accident led to track career
From being youngest member of Team USA at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, Chelsea McClammer is now aiming for gold.
With the 2021 Summer Paralympic Games fast approaching, the athletes competing in the same are all vying at their chance to create history, as they all are gunning for wins at this prestigious sports event.
Who is Chelsea McClammer?
Chelsea McClammer is a three-time paralympic medalist who is all set to compete in the 2021 Summer Paralympic Games. Having won multiple medals at World Championships and The Parapan American Games, McClammer's Paralympic wins came in 2016, when she won two silver medals and one bronze in the women's 5,000 meters-T53/54, 4×400 relay-T53/54, and 1500 meter races.
As a child, McClammer was athletic and took a keen interest in basketball and tennis. However, she was involved in a car accident at the age of 6, which resulted in a spinal injury, causing her to be wheelchair-bound. In a conversation with Maxpreps, the athlete opened up about her injury.
"I'm only the one in the accident that could remember all of it. I was in the backseat and we went off the side of the road when there was an oncoming car headed toward us. My mother and brother were okay, but I was kind of confused by what was going on. I remember not being able to move my legs. I broke my back, but didn't feel it, because the actual break didn't hurt." she explained
"The car was catching on fire and I couldn't get out. Firemen pulled me from the car. The accident didn't really hit me until when I woke up in the hospital. I didn't freak out or anything, because I couldn't feel anything. The doctor came in and told me that I was paralyzed and they told me they could try and find a cure. They never did. I accepted it pretty quickly, because I was only six, and I only had six years of life experience before that. It's not like I knew much about life before that," she added.
Her curiosity led to her athletic career
McClammer began her athletic career rather young. She began racing as a tween, after being introduced to the sport at a sports convention and hired coach Theresa Skinner to train her for competitive racing. Under the guidance of Skinner, she qualified for the U.S. Paralympics Track and Field Nationals at the age of 12. She even went on to become the youngest member of Team USA in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing at 14 years old. As reported by paralympic.org, curiosity about the sport drew her in.
"I wanted to try new things, I never saw anything like it before. The first time I did it, it was definitely harder than I expected and I think I actually beat someone. It felt like the coolest thing ever, and it still is to me," she added.
McClammer isn't phased by how people view her
McClammer has learned to look past these ideas despite people's preconceived notions and has a simple vision for herself. "I really don't care how people look at me, or how they think of me, because Paralympics often gets confused with the Special Olympics a lot, and we just correct that." she explained, seeing that the confusion is a common one. "I'm not offended by it or anything, but I sometimes used to get offended by what people used to say, and asked how I did certain things, like how I slept. But we're athletes, we're all athletes with special skills, and that's the way I see myself," she added.
Tokyo Paralympic Games will be commencing from August 24.