Look at Sarah Now...
Hawaii Ford Ironman World Championship 2005: 1st Female Above-Knee Amputee to Ever Complete
ESPY Awards 2006: Best Female Athlete with a Disability
World Record Holder:
100m (in her division, T42)
200m (in her division, T42)
400m (in her division, T42)
Half Marathon for Above-Knee Amputee Women (2:12)
Marathon for Above-Knee Amputee Women (5:27)
Paralympics Barcelona 1992: Youngest member.
Sarah Reinertsen's left leg was deformed with a condition called proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD). She maneuvered around on the stiff leg brace from the time she was 11 months to 7 years old when the decision was made to amputate the leg. Sarah Reinertsen, a native on Long Island, NY can still recall her first prosthetic, which was made of wood and had a rubber foot.
"It was clunky and made a huge noise when I walked," Reinertsen said. "I couldn't really run. I had to do this hop, skip thing." Classmates taunted her. "They would say, 'Yo mama got you a leg at the grocery store,' " Reinertsen said.
"I used to get teased a lot, but kids are that way. They pick on the most obvious weakness". Sarah was a Brownie... a great student... had a smile that lit up a room. But still, she was different. And every day at gym class, that was never more apparent. She always came in last on field day and was always picked last on the team. Her teachers and coaches did not include her in regular play with the other kids. Instead, she would kick the ball against the wall. Alone.
Life changed for Sarah when she was 11 and went to her first track meet for kids with disabilities. For the first time, Sarah was lined up next to other girls missing their legs too. When the gun went off for the 100 meters, she ran hard and finished first. For the first time in her life, she won. The discovery that she could be an athlete was the defining moment of her life. Her world all of a sudden opened up to an area that she never thought would be a possibility for her. But how could a girl without a leg be an athlete?
Although she is only in her early thirties, Sarah has already traveled all over the world, and has run in races in New Zealand, Europe, Cuba, and all over the United States.
At the age of 11 Sarah began running track, largely because it was the one thing people didn't expect her to do. As a young girl with an artificial leg, going through her teen years was difficult. Yet she poured her heart into running and training every day after school, either on the track or lifting weights in the gym. At age 13, she first broke the 100m world record for female above-knee amputees and amazingly today, she still holds the world record with a time of 17.99 seconds, along with the current world records for the 200m and 400m in her class. Sarah also became the youngest member of the US Disabled Track Team and began to compete nationally and internationally.
In 1992 Sarah represented the United States at the Paralympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. Although she went to the games as a world record holder in her event, she had a disappointing race, tripping in the starting blocks and failing to advance to the final heat.
When Sarah returned home from the '92 games, she took a break from the track to pursue her studies at The George Washington University. The University didn't have a track team, so Sarah stopped training for the 100m and 200m. When she returned to training, she wanted to see just how far she could go, running longer and longer distances. She began to train and run in 5km and 10km road races and eventually, during her last semester at George Washington University, she ran her very first marathon - the 1997 NYC marathon - with a time of 6:28.
In 2000, Sarah graduated from the University of Southern California with a Master's degree in broadcast journalism. She landed a job in New York City working as an on-camera reporter and producer for NBC's "US Olympic Gold", and covered the NYC marathon live on WNBC-NY annually.
Sarah chose to leave NYC in 2003 and move back to California to train for the Ironman in Kona, Hawaii. While training, she worked for a non-profit charity called the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which helps fund and provide opportunities to athletes with disabilities. Sarah reigns as the 2003 World Triathlon Champion in the Olympic distance race and in 2005 her training paid off when she became the first woman amputee ever to finish The Ford Ironman World Championship in the history of the sport. The formidable Ironman triathlon comprises a 2.4- mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.
Since completing the Ironman in Kona, Sarah has pursued a career in motivational speaking. She is an exemplary member of Team Ossur and remains a proud spokesperson and advocate of the Challenged Athletes Foundation . She also scooped up the well deserved ESPY award in 2006. Big names from the sports and entertainment world gathered on July 12th in Hollywood, CA to celebrate and pay homage to sporting superstars of 2006. Among them was Team Ossur's Sarah Reinertsen, voted Best Female Athlete with a Disability.
Sarah currently lives and trains in Southern California. With an exceptional talent for sprinting and distance running, Sarah is an accomplished triathlete and a great inspiration for many people: achieving things which at first might not seem possible. To learn more about Sarah Reinertsen, visit www.IAMSARAH.org