N.H. swimmer reacts to 'heartbreaking' Paralympic decision
Swimmer ruled ineligible based on chance she could walk again
A New Hampshire swimmer said Monday it was "heartbreaking" to be told she couldn't compete in the Paralympic World Championships in Canada over the weekend.
Victoria Arlen took home gold in the 100-meter freestyle last year in London, setting a world record. She was in Montreal last week to attempt to continue her run of dominance.
But she then received a call from the sport's governing body telling her she wasn't going to be allowed to compete.
"It was so heartbreaking," Arlen said. "To train so hard, to come so close within just days, to have it all taken away -- it's very hard."
The International Paralympic Committee told Arlen she was disqualified because the illness that has left her in a wheelchair since she was 11 may not be permanent, and with years of therapy, there was a slim chance she could walk again.
The committee said it determined that she may not be permanently disabled.
"I was being penalized for having hope, is basically what it all came down to," Arlen said.
Since the ban, Arlen has been flooded with support, including demands from New Hampshire's Senate delegation and Gov. Maggie Hassan that the IPC review the ruling.
"The amount of support just from all over the world -- there's just been so many people that I don't even know, and that's been absolutely incredible," Arlen said.
For now, Arlen's athletic future is unknown, but she said she's not giving up.
"It really is wrong, but it's out of my control," she said. "And I just have to move forward and keep going."
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