Aimee Mullins: Pioneering Paralympian
Aimee Mullins, current Women’s Sports Foundation Trustee and a former WSF President, is gifted more than most and is inspiring to anyone who knows her story. Not only is she a world-class athlete, she is a graduate of Georgetown University, a model, and an actress who has starred in both movies and on television.
To take things a step further, Mullins is also a world record holder, and a former Track & Field Paralympian who will serve as the 2012 Paralympics Chef de Mission in London. Her achievements are above and beyond, but to think that she did this all on silicone and titanium legs is so admirable.
In a Sports Illustrated Interview she said, "In athletics, the idea of possibility is presumed. It's not 'if,' it's 'how.' And that is how artists, and fashion designers, and musicians see the world. It's not possibility, it's potential.”
Mullins is a double-amputee after losing her lower legs when she was just one year old because she was born without fibulae. Still, she became a world record holder and a prominent Track and Field Paralympian. One must wonder however, if Aimee Mullins still competed, would she be a Paralympian or would she compete in the Olympic Games, like South African runner Oscar Pistorius?
Pistorius is also an amputee sprinter, but after finishing second in a 2007 track meet in Rome, it was decided that he was too “able.” Not only does Pistorius compete with non-disabled athletes, but people are now saying that his prosthetic limbs are an advantage. Some believe that the amputated limbs can give a 400m sprinter a 12 second advantage over other athletes. Others argue that that it provides no advantage at all.
In 2008, Pistorious was banned from competing in the Summer Olympics Games by the International Association of Athletics Federations, but a 2009 MIT study showed that the limbs gave no advantage and the ban was lifted. Society has shifted their views of double amputee runners as being “disabled” to “too abled.”
Mullins too beat “able-bodied” athletes when she competed in NCAA Track and Field at Georgetown and maybe if she were competing in 2012, she too would have her shot at Olympic glory. Pistorius will compete in London in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The debate will continue, but one thing is certain: Aimee Mullins has accomplished more with two artificial legs than most could do with four.