Paralympic Athlete Spotlight - Athletes for Hope

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Paralympic Athlete Spotlight

Cycling Towards Inclusion

Paralympic Athlete Katie Walker discovered the Paralympic Movement in 2013, competing in Para track & field from 2013-2016. In 2020, she found her passion for indoor cycling, making the U.S. Paralympic Cycling Team in 2022. Katie has been an AFH Athlete since 2021 and is passionate about representation in sports.

What has your experience been as an athlete with a disability?

I grew up playing able-bodied sports, softball/baseball and basketball, from age 5-20. I then transitioned to training for the Paralympics at age 25-present. 

You may fail or find it difficult to adapt in the beginning, but be persistent and don’t give up if it’s what you want to do. It will get easier with time. 

Katie Walker

Who has been your biggest support?

Currently, U.S. Paralympics Cycling is providing support. In addition, my coaches and teammates have all been hugely supportive. Growing up, I did not have a ton of role models who looked like me. I did, however, find inspiration from Jim Abbott at an early age. I think because of his exposure, I gained confidence knowing I could also play baseball (and play well) even though I was missing my left forearm/hand. In addition, I think because my coaches had awareness of him, they were better able to coach an athlete who had a similar disability.

How can athletes at all levels support their peers with disabilities in sports?   

Keep an open mind and be patient. Don’t be scared to ask questions or offer support if that is what you are feeling. Be accepting, encouraging and respectful.

Why do you think it is important to celebrate differences?   

Celebrating differences spreads awareness and increases exposure to what may have been considered fearful or shameful. With greater exposure and awareness comes more knowledge surrounding those differences.

Knowledge dispels fear, and when fear is diminished, understanding and acceptance come into existence. 

Katie Walker

What do you think will help raise awareness and inclusion when it comes to disability in sports?

I think continuing to increase the exposure of the Paralympic Movement will increase awareness and inclusion of disability in sports.