Five-time Paralympic medalist Mallory Weggemann doesn't want to be defined by her disability because she's so much more than this.
During a recent interview, the renowned Paralympic swimmer shared how her disability changed her life.
Even though Weggemann has already come to terms with the fact that she's paralyzed from the waist down, it wasn't necessarily a walk in the park when she found out that she could no longer walk.
Mallory Weggemann's life changed forever in 2008
On Jan. 21, 2008, an 18-year-old Weggemann went to a hospital to have an epidural injection for back pain. She later learned that she suffered from complications following the procedure.
At first, Weggemann had no idea how she would continue living with her paralysis, especially since society looks at disability as pitiful. But Weggemann said that she decided to turn to her first love - swimming - to help her deal with her body and life changes.
With the help of her older sister Christine, Weggemann visited the 2008 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials at the University of Minnesota. She observed the athletes who all had physical or cognitive disabilities and became intrigued about how they could represent the country in swimming, according to SI.
After meeting a club coach from the university who offered to train her, Weggemann returned to the pool less than a week later. However, training wasn't a breeze for the athlete.
After all, Weggemann was famous for her powerful leg kicks. But after she was paralyzed, she learned how to swim without using her legs. The athlete, who won two golds and a silver at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, said that swimming saved her life in many ways.
Mallory Weggemann is so much more than her disability
After 12 years of dealing with her paralysis, Weggemann also said she has come to love her disability and wants everyone to know that her limitations do not define her.
"Society wanted to box me into what life with a disability should look like. The reality is I'm five years married, dreaming of a family, I'm a business owner, an athlete. All the things society said weren't for people like me," she said via CNN.
And even though Weggemann says that swimming was what helped her make sense of her situation, she hopes that her message would resonate with everyone, even beyond sports. She reminded everyone going through trauma and adversity that they are more than their circumstance. Weggemann said that she hopes that people will honor their own stories instead of just listening to her.
Five-time Paralympic medalist's book aims to inspire people
Weggemann's full story is detailed in her book "Limitless: The Power of Hope and Resilience to Overcome," which was released last March.
According to Swimming World Magazine, Weggemann initially wanted to release her book after the Paralympics Games, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the competition back.
Even if this was the case, the author of "Limitless" still decided to release her book this year. Weggemann said that the book is aimed at helping others figure out what their journey is and honor it.