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Arizona woman wins triathlon gold medal in Paralympic Games in Rio

Team USA's Allysa Seely rounds the first turn during the bicycle portion of the women's PT2 triathlon on her way to a gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. Seely, who also competes in the women's T36 200 meter event, is one of a growing number of multi-sport athletes at the Paralympic Games. (Jenn Finch/University of Georgia via AP)

PHOENIX — Copper may be the official metal of Arizona, but things are looking a little more gold for an Arizona woman competing in the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Allysa Seely won the debut of the triathlon at the games on Sunday in the PT2 class. She competed against other athletes with physical impairments, such as a missing leg. Seely is missing her left foot.

Competitors in Seely’s class are allowed to wear a prosthetic.

Seely finished the race — consisting of about a half-mile swim, nearly 14-mile bike ride and about a three-mile run — in 1:22:55.

Love my seester!! @jessicaa.lynnn

A photo posted by Allysa seely (@triallysa) on

The United States swept the podium in the race.

Sunday’s gold may not be Seely’s last of these games. She ran in the first round of the T36 200-meter sprint on Monday morning, setting a new personal best of 32.36 seconds to qualify for the Tuesday final.

“Running is my heart and my soul,” Seely said. “I love triathlon with my whole being, but running is my strength and I wouldn’t give it up.”

Seely began running while she was a student at Arizona State University and 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, adding that she decided to have her foot amputated because of complications related to her condition.

After being told she may never walk again, Seely battled her way back and began competing within weeks of doctors removing her foot.

KTAR’s Jeremy Foster and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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