A Remarkable Paralympian Is Helping Girls On Their Athletic Journeys
Forget about a picture of perseverance and courage, Alana Nichols is a billboard of it. The New Mexico native was paralyzed from the waist down as the result of a snowboarding accent when she was 17 years old. She recalls in an interview with Team USA’s YouTube channel how hard it was.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had identified as an athlete my entire life. I had to reinvent myself.”
Nichols did. She discovered wheelchair basketball while she was a student at the University of New Mexico. She made the United States Paralympic team and won a gold medal in the 2008 Games in Beijing.
“All of a sudden, I felt like I had another goal, another purpose. My competitive spirit came alive again.”
Nichols didn’t stop there. She won two gold medals in skiing during the 2010 Paralympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, which made her the first athlete to win a gold medal in both the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games.
“I really believe in myself. I really do believe I can accomplish what I set out to accomplish,” she said.
Unfortunately, during another competition, Nichols suffered broken ankles and a concussion, forcing her to retire from competitive skiing. However, Nichols switched sports again, making the transition to canoeing and earning a spoton the 2016 Paralympic team that competed in Rio. Always looking for a new challenge, Nichols later became the president of the Women’s Sports Foundation which works to advance the lives of girls and young women through sports and physical activity. She shared her perspective on how she hopes to help girls on teamusa.org.
“There’s a cyclical nature that starts with young girls who don’t have the same opportunities as boys. It always comes back to the little girl who isn’t able to see women winning and so she can’t see herself there finding success in her sport, so she won’t stay in it. We want to change that.”
Alana Nichols has adapted so many times in her own athletic journey while always coming out on top. Now, as a role model and leader, she is committed to helping provide a promising future for well-deserving young girls who are starting theirs.