14. Jessica Long
Jessica Long was born Tatiana Olegovna Kirillova and left at an orphanage in Bratsk, Russia in 1992. She was adopted by a family in Essex and her legs were amputated when she was 18 months old due to a condition known as fibular hemimelia. Her adoptive parents not only dealt with her unique condition and brought her to America but also taught her to compete in sports via gymnastics and swimming. In 2002, she started swimming and by 2004, at the age of 12, she was participating and winning gold medals in Athens at the Paralympic Games.
She’ll turn 22 in February and has now won 17 Olympic medals (12 gold, 3 silver, 2 bronze) through three Paralympic Games, adding Beijing and London to her debut in Greece. She also holds world records in 13 categories.
She had a dream to compete. She’s now the most decorated Paralympic athlete in the world.
There’s a much longer profile of Jessica Long at WNST.net here.
See next page for No. 13