A Paralympian's Inspiring Story

March 1, 2024

Despite facing challenges in her athletic career, Team Injinji Athlete Kym Crosby, @kymbo14, has found her passion: running track and field. Kym competes in the Paralympics as a visually impaired athlete (and 3x medalist!) The Paralympics are an international, multi-sport event for athletes with disabilities. The name originates from the preposition “para” (meaning beside or alongside) and the word “Olympic,” illustrating how the Paralympics and Olympics exist side-by-side.

Embracing every opportunity to push herself along the way, Kym embodies pure grit and determination: “It hasn’t been an easy road but still I persist and fight for my goals.” Follow along as we dive into Kym’s inspiring story as she shares about her life as a Paralympian and the importance of inclusivity in sports.

Team Injinji Athlete Kym Crosby wearing a USA race bib and red National Team race kit, running in a high level track and field competition.Team Injinji Athlete Kym Crosby wearing a USA race bib and red National Team race kit, running in a high level track and field competition.
Team Injinji Athlete Kym Crosby wearing a USA race bib and blue National Team race kit, running in a high level track and field competition.Team Injinji Athlete Kym Crosby wearing a USA race bib and blue National Team race kit, running in a high level track and field competition.

Please share a bit about yourself as an athlete.

I am a para track and field sprinter. I have been competing for more than fifteen years, ten of which have been on the professional level. I started as a freshman in high school, then competed on a full scholarship in college. Thanks to my older brother, I have always loved playing sports. Growing up, I played basketball, volleyball, and I even tried tennis for a minute. None of those really worked out for me, mainly because they involved a ball. When I found track, I knew that this was the sport for me. I could challenge myself, grow, and run free without the help of anyone or anything else. It was just me and how far I could push my body.

Could you share a brief background of your journey in sports as a Paralympian with a visual impairment?

I didn’t know anything about the Paralympics until I was contacted by the director of Para Track & Field during my sophomore year in college. I decided to focus on the upcoming games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. When I joined the National Team and was surrounded by others who also had a physical disability, I felt at home. Growing up, I had never been around people who were like me or shared the same experiences. I knew this was where I was meant to be. Since then, I have embraced my visual impairment. Having albinism is a beautiful thing that I no longer want to hide but share its beauty with the world. 

In your sports career, what challenges have you encountered and overcome as an athlete with a disability?

The biggest challenge that I have encountered as an athlete with a disability is people not taking me and my sport seriously. Not a lot of people have heard about the Paralympics, so when I tell them what I do, they automatically assume I am referring to the Special Olympics. I train six days a week and almost year-round. I travel the world and compete in the same stadiums as the Olympians do. I train alongside Olympians, and we have the same goals and aspirations. With the Paralympics being less known in the United States, finding funding, sponsors, and recognition in the media is a huge challenge; yet, as athletes with disabilities, we persist, push, and make our voices heard as best as possible. Educating and wowing the world with our stories, hard work, and dedication is what we strive to do.

Do you have a role model or someone to look to for inspiration in sports?

Ever since I learned about track and field, I have always looked up to Allison Felix. I love her drive and dedication to the sport. Now that she is a retired mother, I love that she is pushing for women’s rights, especially those who want to grow their families while still being in sports. 

Can you share a particularly memorable event or achievement throughout your athletic career?

My most memorable and favorite memory is when I was at my first Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. I had just completed my final in the 100m and when I crossed the line, I had no idea what place I came in. First and second place were parading around the stadium and a few of us were standing around in confusion, not knowing what place we had come in. Everything had died down in the stadium, so I started making my way back through the tunnel underneath the stadium when a photographer who knew me stopped me to tell me congratulations. I was confused and asked him if he knew what place I had come in. He told me I got bronze. At the same time, one of our team leaders was behind me asking me if I too wanted a flag to parade around with. That’s when it hit me. I started to get very emotional because that had always been a dream of mine. It was funny, emotional, and exciting all at the same time. It’s a memory I will never forget.

What advice would you give young girls or women with disabilities who aspire to participate in sports at a high level?

My advice would be to never give up on your dreams. You can achieve anything you put your mind to. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Things will get hard along the way and that’s okay—you are strong enough to handle whatever comes your way. And remember, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. These statements have gotten me through most of my sports career thus far. It hasn’t been an easy road, but still, I persist and fight for my goals. 

In your opinion, how can communities and organizations better support the inclusion of girls with disabilities in sports programs?

First, recognizing the athletes and the sports they are participating in is crucial. Para sports, especially at higher levels of competition, are underrecognized. Support for athletes and sports for those with disabilities is really important to us, so showing that same level of care and respect means more than people may think. As athletes with disabilities, we want to be included and to be seen as athletes. Adding in more sports that are catered specifically to women with disabilities will provide girls and women with more opportunities to participate in sports. 

Kym’s narrative inspires us all to stop listening to the voices that tell us “No” and pursue our aspirations.
Blisters holding you back? Slip into a pair of Injinji socks and dream big!