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How did Mallory Weggemann become paralyzed? Disability of gold medallist explained

Joshua Rogers August 27, 2021
2020 Tokyo Paralympics - Day 3
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Swimmer Mallory Weggemann has won gold in the women’s 200m individual medley SM7. Audiences wanted to know more about her disability, and how Mallory Weggemann become paralyzed.

Weggemann takes gold at Tokyo Paralympics

Paralympic swimmer Mallory Weggemann has won gold in the women’s 200m individual medley SM7.

The 32-year-old from Lawrence, Kansas, U.S, finished with a time of 2:55.48 to take the victory.

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

What is S7 in Paralympic swimming?

S7, SB6, SM7 are all Paralympic swimming classifications used for categorizing swimmers based on their level of disability.

Swimmers in this class have use of their arms and trunk, and either have limited leg function or are missing a leg or parts of both legs.

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This class includes a number of different disabilities, often including people with amputations and cerebral palsy.

Mallory Weggemann is paralyzed from the waist down and therefore qualifies for S7 classification.

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

How did Mallory Weggemann become paralyzed?

Mallory Weggemann was just 19-years-old when she became paralyzed from the waist down after a routine epidural injection during a bout of shingles went wrong.

Weggemann began having severe lower back pain in high school following the case of shingles.

She was prescribed three epidural injections over a number of months, and the first two brought pain relief.

But after the third, in January 2008, numbness in the college freshman’s legs didn’t recede, her family says.

She was transferred from a clinic to a hospital. After three weeks, doctors told her she needed to learn how to use a wheelchair.

Complications from the procedure had paralyzed her from the waist down, leaving her wheelchair bound for life.

Despite the devastating news, Weggemann was inspired by other swimmers with disabilities to get in the pool.

She soon started to learn how to swim without the use of her legs, and the rest is history.

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.