Kick her while she’s down

The other day while we were having breakfast, we heard a news item on CNN that is beyond belief.

Swimmer Victoria Arlen won four medals in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. The 18-year-old is paralyzed from the waist down because of an autoimmune disorder that attacked her spine when she was 11.

According to CNN and other news outlets, Victoria was ready to compete this month in the Paralympic World Championships in Montreal. In fact, she was already in Montreal with the USA team. Then she learned she has been disqualified from the competition.

Why? Because a doctor told the International Paralympic Committee there is a chance that Victoria may someday be able to walk again. New England Sports Network quoted the ruling by the IPC:

“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. Following her classification at the London 2012 Paralympic Games last August, IPC Swimming requested a medical report into her impairment within 12 months. This was duly provided by the USOC on 24 July 2013.”

The report apparently said there is a glimmer of hope that with intense therapy and new treatments on the horizon, Victoria may one day walk again. Not today, not tomorrow, but perhaps someday.

This is just the latest cruelty in a life scarred by tragedy. When her spine was attacked seven years ago, she fell into a coma for three years. She fought for her life and returned to competitive swimming despite not being able to use her legs. She set a world record when she won her gold medal at the games in London.

“I’m so heartbroken with what has happened,” NESN says she posted on Facebook recently. “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. “

Victoria, it baffles the rest of the world, too. Rest assured, though, that you have proven time and again that you have the heart of a champion.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.