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Paralyzed Swimmer Banned From World Championships For Surprising Reason

Victoria Arlen
WBZ

The Paralympics celebrates the human spirit, but there seems to be some serious spirit lacking in a controversial decision not to let a paralyzed woman participate.

The International Paralympic Committee has banned Victoria Arlen, an 18-year-old from Exeter, New Hampshire, who’s stricken to a wheelchair, from competing at the Paralympic Swimming World Championships in Montreal because it said her condition is temporary. The competition began on August 12.

Arlen has remained extraordinarily level-headed about the ordeal:

I am keeping my head held high and I am not bitter, discouraged or angry against them. It is what it is. There’s not much I can do right now. It’s in the hands of higher powered people.”

Arlen has been in a wheelchair since she was 11 – when she went into a three-year coma — due to an autoimmune disorder that affects nerves in her spine. Despite her disability, she won four medals – including one gold during a record-setting performance – at the Paralympic Games in London last summer.

While the family seeks concrete answers and politicians from the state have rallied to her side, a doctor at Johns Hopkins said Arlen could potentially walk again after undergoing years of physical therapy, although he added, “Please do not misconstrue my plan as a statement of permanence of her disability.”

For its part, the IPC said it had received an update on her condition last month:

All are in agreement that the report, its assessment and its diagnosis fail to provide sufficient evidence of an eligible impairment leading to permanent or verifiable activity limitation…”

Arlen continues to show true class by saying, “I just have to put it all in perspective. I know there are a lot more problems to worry about in this world. As hard as it is there are people starving and dying in the world. It is such a blessing to be where I am today.”

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