PHOENIX — An Arizona woman who was told she would likely never walk again could be running away this summer a gold medal-winner.
Phoenix resident Allysa Seely, 27, is one of the athletes that will represent the United States at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro
Seely, whose left foot was amputated, said she always was an athlete. But after she ran her first triathlon while attending Arizona State University, she wanted to become an elite competitor in endurance sports.
But her path to becoming such an athlete took a sharp left turn.
“All of that, in my world, has just really made me want to keep going and pushing further,” she said.
Shortly after her first triathlon, Seely said she had trouble walking and began experiencing other neurological issues.
Her doctor thought it was some adverse effects caused by stress. She was later diagnosed with a Chiari 2 malformation, basilar invagination and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome — all are typically diagnosed in toddlers, not 20-year-old collegiate athletes.
“My brain was herniated into my spinal column, causing a lot of neurological deficit, so I had brain-spine surgery,” she said.
Doctors told Seely she would likely not be able to walk again. But she battled her way back and not only learned to walk again, but began to compete.
However, the effects of her neurological condition began to show, especially on her left foot. Given the choice of multiple surgeries to try and save her limb or remove it, Seely opted to have it amputated.
She was back competing within weeks.
“Nothing that I went through is going to stop me,” she said. “Having the opportunity to come back and race at an elite level has been something out of my wildest dreams.”
Seely will compete in the paratriathalon’s Paralympic debut in Rio. This year’s Paralympic Games run from Sept. 7 to Sept. 18.
KTAR’s Jeremy Foster contributed to this report.
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