Meet the woman who won the first gold medal in PT2 triathlon Paralympic history.

"We still see the disability before we see the individual."

Allysa Seely made history at the 2016 Paralympic Games when she became the first gold medal winner in the PT2 women's triathlon, an event that debuted at the games this year.

Plans to bring the triathlon to the Paralympics have been in the works for 15 years. Finally, in 2016, there were enough athletes who qualified for the event.

Hailey Danisewicz, Allysa Seely, and Melissa Stockwell — Team USA dominated the winner's podium. Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images.


On Sept. 11, 2016, Seely finished the triathlon — which consists of running, biking, and swimming — with a time of 1 hour, 22 minutes, and 25 seconds. Two of her fellow teammates, Hailey Danisewicz and Melissa Stockwell, came in close behind her to score second and third place.

It was a monumental moment in shattering the notion of what people with disabilities can or can't do.

Seely knows firsthand how it feels to be treated differently because of a disability.

"I was at the gas station and this lady behind me scoffed to her teenage children, 'See, that's what happens when you eat crap and don't take care of yourself,'" Seely told ESPN. The woman apparently thought Seely's disability had been caused by diabetes.

"She was unstoppable not because she did not have failures or doubts but because she continued on despite of them." -Beau Taplin

Posted by Allysa Seely on Friday, August 12, 2016

"We still see the disability before we see the individual," said Seely.

Seely was already a nationally ranked triathlete when she received three major diagnoses in 2010 that changed her life forever.

The diagnoses were Chiari II malformation, basilar invagination, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The surgeries she needed to treat them came with a grim side effect: she would likely have to give up running altogether. In fact, her doctors told her she may never walk unaided again.

Complications from the surgeries and subsequent surgeries to treat the complications led to the amputation of her left leg below the knee. Seely started physical therapy almost immediately. The work was exhausting, as her body learned to use muscles in ways it never had before. Slowly but surely, however, she made progress toward her goal.

Doctors told her to think "realistically" about her recovery, but Seely would not be dissuaded. She was determined to run again.

The double amputation isn't the only thing that affects Seely's mobility. Her brain condition causes her to lack proprioception, which tells you where your body is in space without looking. When Seely's running, she often has to look down to know what her legs are doing.

In August 2010, Seely had her first brain surgery, and in April 2011, she finished a collegiate triathlon.

"I can still remember how it felt to accomplish something that nobody thought I could," she told ESPN.

Even if she didn't have physical obstacles, Seely's athletic achievements are amazing. Her journey is a reminder that there's no one way to be a strong, impressive athlete — and that you can't tell how healthy or fit or capable someone is just by looking at them.

Allysa Seely at the Rio 2016 Paralympics. Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images.

"For a lot of people, all they see is my amputation; they don't see the challenges in and out of every day," Seely told ESPN.

Five years later, here she is, a gold medal triathlete:

Danisewicz, Seely, and Stockwell with their medals. Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images.

Sure, not every disabled person can do what Seely and her teammates have done, just like not every able-bodied person can complete a triathlon. Her win and the fact that there were enough qualifying Paralympians to include the triathlon event this year show just how wrong the notion of people with disabilities being incapable — or as the woman at the gas station claimed, a consequence of "eating crap and not taking care of yourself" — truly is.

Hopefully, thanks to the awesome performances at the Paralympics this year and every year, it will soon be left in the dust where it belongs.

Most Shared
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

For most of us, the hypothetical question of whether we would stick with a boyfriend or girlfriend through the trials of cancer and the treatments is just that – a hypothetical question. We would like to think we would do the right thing, but when Max Allegretti got the chance to put his money where mouth is, he didn't hesitate for a second.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular