Paralyzed swimmer banned from Paralympics

August 15, 2013 7:18:32 PM PDT
New Hampshire's governor is adding her voice to those disappointed by the exclusion of a disabled teenage swimmer from this week's Paralympic World Swimming Championships in Montreal.

Gov. Maggie Hassan joins others including the state's two U.S. senators in criticizing a decision by the International Paralympic Committee barring Exeter resident Victoria Arlen from the games because her disability isn't considered permanent.

The 18-year-old was paralyzed from the waist down due to a rare neurological condition seven years ago. She resumed competitive swimming at the age of 16. At last year's Paralympics in London she set a world record and won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle and silver medals in three other races.

Just as she was set to compete this week, officials banned her from competition.

Hassan calls the last-minute ban on Arlen's participation "unconscionable and patently unfair."

"One of the medical reports said there was a chance that I might be able to walk again. It was basically penalizing me for having hope," Arlen said.

The Germany-based International Paralympic Committee told ABC News that five medical experts reviewed the teen's records and concluded there's insufficient evidence that she's permanently impaired.

But other experts argue it would be extremely unusual for her to recover after seven years.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

Load Comments