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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

New England Sports 366, #24: Victoria Arlen

Arlen was born in Exeter, NH. That made her a winner on day one. Everything that happened after is what made her a champion.


At the age of 11, Arlen developed transverse myelitis and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. The combination drove her into an unresponsive vegetative state for four years. Arlen was conscious and aware, but unable to move or speak or interact with the world. Doctors gave her almost no chance to recover.


And yet she did. At sixteen, Arlen began to move. Then she began to swim, despite being paralyzed from the waist down. She qualified for the 2012 Paralympics in record fashion, and then won four medals in London (one gold, three silver). She was deemed not eligible for subsequent Paralympics because her disability didn’t meet their stringent parameters. Yeah, okay.


Arlen continues to shine, whether as ESPN on-air talent or as a contestant on TV dancing competitions. She’s even re-learning how to walk, though she still has no sensation in her legs.


I love to see an Exeter kid beat the odds.

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