Becoming a Rowing Champion with a Spinal Cord Injury

Angela Madsen rowing championAngela Madsen, an L2 para, is a six-time Guinness World Record holder in rowing. When she was growing up in Fairborn, Ohio, Madsen knew nothing about rowing, but she was always athletic. She enjoyed swimming and diving when she was younger.

Madsen joined the Marines after high school and was stationed in California, where she took up surfing. She joined the Women’s All Marine Corps basketball team but was injured while playing a game when she fell forward and someone landed on her back. Even though she could still walk, the accident ended her military career. She needed back surgery 13 years later, but the surgeon made a mistake and removed the wrong disc, which compromised her spinal cord.

Two years after her surgery, Madsen discovered adaptive sports. She began with wheelchair basketball and then became involved in rowing. She won gold in the Rowing National Championships from 2000 to 2008. Madsen competed in the Paralympics for the first time in 2008 and placed seventh in rowing. She won gold in shot put in the Paralympics in 2012.

Madsen has also become involved in ocean rowing. She has crossed the Atlantic and Indian Oceans non-stop without a support boat and has circumnavigated Britain. She plans to try to cross the Pacific Ocean in 2017.

Madsen is currently busy coaching adapted rowing and running her foundations, Row of Life and California Adapted Rowing Programs. She believes rowing is the most all-inclusive sport available and wants to promote its versatility for people at all levels of ability.

Angela Madsen has not let her injury slow her down or keep her from accomplishing her goals. She has achieved more than many people ever will. What a role model she is.

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