Paralympic gold medalist Victoria Arlen was in a coma for three years due to a rare neurological disorder. When she finally awoke, she was paralyzed from the waist down.
Arlen always wanted to be an athlete. Unable to give up on her dream, she trained hard and, with only has the use of her upper body, the New Hampshire 18-year-old won a gold medal during the London Paralympic Games in 2012.
Just days before Arlen was set to compete with Team USA at the Montreal World Championships, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) ruled Arlen is not disabled enough to compete. She is now banned from any future competition. The IPC states that Arlen’s disability may not be permanent and therefore she is not able to be a paralympian.
In a statement released Sunday, the committee said, “IPC Swimming can confirm that Victoria Arlen of the USA will not participate at the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships and future IPC Swimming competitions having failed to provide conclusive evidence of a permanent eligible impairment."
Arlen suffers from tranverse myelitis, an inflammation that affects the spinal cord. Within months of her diagnosis she was in a coma fighting for her life, NESN reported. There is a possibility, however, that she could regain movement in her legs.
“I’m so heartbroken with what has happened,” Arlen wrote on Facebook. “I feel numb and completely shocked with the turn of events. To have trained so hard this past year and come so far only to be humiliated and targeted by the IPC for reasons unknown baffles me. ”
“Being penalized for maybe having a glimmer of hope of one day being able to walk again is beyond sad," she said on Facebook. "As much as I'd like [to walk], it is not a reality."
She was already in Montreal, when the IPC decided she was ineligible.
“I continue to have the [utmost] respect for the Paralympic movement and the IPC and hope that this will not happen to anyone else. Nobody should have to go through this,” she added.