Paralyzed gold medalist retraining for life

Paralyzed gold medalist retraining for life

Credit: KUSA

Paralyzed gold medalist retraining for life

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by Kristen B. Reed, USA TODAY

NWCN.com

Posted on July 4, 2014 at 1:59 PM

There was once a time when Amy Van Dyken-Rouen's body seemed to glide effortlessly through the water. The Olympic gold medalist's highly tuned body propelling her to achieve more than she ever thought possible. Now, even the most mundane daily tasks are far from effortless – requiring her to muster more strength and fortitude than ever before.

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, who won four gold medals at the 1996 Olympics, is now paralyzed after an ATV rolled over her this past June. She is now undergoing rehabilitation at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado and despite the bleak circumstances, her outlook on life remains cloudless.

"You gotta keep it light because there is a lot of seriousness but you gotta have fun with it. You know? It's your new life. You gotta have fun," Van Dyken-Rouen said as she practiced getting out of the driver seat of a car.

"Every day it's a celebration because I am here and I made it through another night."

Van Dyken-Rouen was the first woman to win six gold medals and once swam the 100 meter butterfly in less than 60 seconds. Now, it takes about that long to put on just one shoe. She's lost nearly all feeling below the belly button but occasionally experiences tingling. This tingling gives her hope.

"It's hard, when they pin prick you and you can't feel it that's really hard and it's kind of a realization that yes I am no paralyzed and I can't feel," she said.

Just like swimming, it's an individual sport. She's pushing herself and enjoying it too. The woman behind the gold medals is training again, training to redefine what she considers a victory.

You can follow Amy's journey on her Facebook page.

Here at the USA TODAY network, not only do we want to provide you with the current events of the day, but also a little dose of inspiration while you're getting your news fix. Inspiration Nation is our way of providing you with that jolt of good news to bring a smile to your day.

Kim Christiansen of KUSA contributed to this story

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