Paralympic long jumper Karolina Kucharczyk has broken a world record after returning to her sport following the birth of her son in 2017.
The Polish athlete made her comeback at the 2018 World Para Athletics European Championships, held in Berlin. She shattered her record of 6.09 meters set back in 2013 with a 6.14 meter jump. This feat of athleticism earned Kucharczyk a gold medal and broke a world record.
On her incredible victory, Kucharczyk stated, “Last year my son, Caspar, was born so I told myself to come back stronger. I’ve been training hard I dedicate this world record to my son.”
Kucharczyk competes in the T20 classification for running and jumping events. This particular classification is for athletes with intellectual disabilities or impairments. Athletes who fall into this category of disability, such as Kucharczyk, typically meet three criteria: having an IQ at or below 75, significant limitations in adaptive behavior, and disability onset before the age of 18.
People with intellectual impairments might have difficulty in a classroom setting performing activities such as reading or speaking. Other challenges outside of a classroom may include having difficulties taking care of themselves, eating, and socializing with others. Even though this is typically diagnosed during childhood, many people who have an intellectual impairment can still grow to live independent, fulfilling lives.
For twelve years, athletes with intellectual impairments did not compete at the Paralympic Games. This was because there lacked a system to determine whether or not an athlete was eligible to compete. Extensive scientific research and a joint initiative formed between the International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability (INAS) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) resolved this issue. The decision to reinstate athletes with intellectual impairments in the games was made in 2009.
The 2012 Summer Games in London were the first Paralympics in over a decade that once again included athletes with intellectual impairments. Kucharczyk was one of these athletes who competed in the 2012 London Paralympic Games, where she won gold. She went on to win silver in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
Karolina Kucharczyk serves as an inspiration to new mothers, athletes, and those with intellectual impairments. Through her determination, persistence, and dedication to her sport, she has taught us all an important lesson. Even if a few roadblocks stand in the way between individuals and their success, working hard and maintaining a good attitude can help them achieve anything.
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