Alana Nichols is one of the best athletes in world in both basketball and skiing. But ask most sports fans about Alana and you’ll receive a blank stare in response.
That’s because Alana’s sports, wheelchair basketball and adaptive skiing, are not what you would consider “mainstream.” At 29 years old, Alana has won gold, silver, and bronze medals in both sports and is the only woman with Gold Medals in both summer and winter Paralympic Games’ events.
Alana’s life changed forever in 2000 at the age of 17 when a back-flip attempt snowboarding failed and she broke her spine, forever paralyzing her from the waist down. It was tough at first, but Alana refused to let her competitive spirit die.
“My grandparents taught me that I bore personal responsibility for my decisions. When I broke my back, I realized that it would be up to me to get back into the game.”
And get back into the game she did.
After this month’s London Games, when most athletes relax and unwind from their intense training regime, Alana will turn his focus to preparing for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. After that last gold medal run, she plans to start a business that will aid other individuals with disabilities. She gives credit for the businesses that support her financially to allow her to compete in both Paralympic Games full-time, and desires to give back when her athlete career ends.
Catch Alana and Team USA’s wheelchair basketball team this month in the Paralympic Games. The championship game is scheduled for September 7.