Arizona’s Shirley Reilly wins Paralympic marathon gold medalby Christopher C. Wuensch on Sep. 10, 2012, under Sports
Who needs legs when you’ve got heart?
Shirley Reilly has heart, arms as strong as steel bridge cables and a brand new gold medal for around her neck.
The University of Arizona student took home first place on Sunday in the Paralympic marathon, outlasting silver medalist Shelly Woods of Britain by one second.
Reilly used a late flurry to distance herself from the pack and wheel across the Buckingham Palace finish line in 1:46.33.
The gold medal is her first in three attempts at the Paralympics, having fallen short in the 2004 Greece and 2008 Beijing games. After the London Games, however, she might need a new mantle for her new hardware. The Alaskan native also won a silver medal in the 5,000-meters and bronze in the 1,500-meters. She also just missed out on a second bronze, finishing fourth in the 400-meter.
Reilly, 27, trains with the University of Arizona Wheelchair Track and Road Racing Team. Earlier this year, she won the wheelchair portion of the Boston Marathon and finished runner-up in the Los Angeles Marathon.
Impressive for an athlete who suffered spinal cord damage and lost the use of her legs when she was born premature.