Facts About Wheelchair Athletes

Facts About Wheelchair Athletes
Perceptions of those with physical disabilities (and what they are capable of) have come a long way since the first heavy, awkward and inefficient steel-and-wood wheelchairs. For those in chairs, athletics are now readily available and accessible.

Skiing and Specialized Equipment

With technologies like mono-ski and bi-ski chairs, wheelchair athletes have a selection of ways to get on the ski hills. The choice of the bi- or mono-ski is determined by mobility and cause of paralysis.


By using four knobby mountain bike tires on a reinforced chair frame, wheelchair athletes can mountain bike down singletracks. Competitions in downhill adaptive mountain biking can be found at many premier bicycle races.


Like the specially designed mountain bike, wheelchair athletes have an array of equipment to keep them in the three-sport discipline. Hand-pedaled road cycles are used for the bike and run, while the swim is accessible with floats for the lower extremities if needed.


Wheelchair-bound does not mean tied to the ground anymore. With proprietary designs in harnesses and pull-up bars, wheelchair athletes now have options to climb rocks and walls. Like most wheelchair athletics, a highly developed upper body is necessary to pull up to the next move.

Adaptive Outdoor Programs

Specialized equipment is expensive and sometimes out of reach for those wanting to participate in these sports. Many communities have adaptive sports programs with gear rentals or instruction.

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

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