For professional athletes, the ability to perform means everything. A physical injury or a disability could bring an athlete’s career to a standstill. These amazing athletes below have accomplished great feats despite their disabilities. If you’re suffering from an illness or serious injury, look to these extraordinary athletes with disabilities for a dose of optimism and inspiration.

Melissa Stockwell

Having lost her left leg during her first tour of duty as First Lieutenant in Iraq, Melissa Stockwell became the first Iraq veteran to participate in the Paralympics in the 2008 Games. She swam in the 100-meter butterfly, 100-meter freestyle and the 400-meter freestyle, finishing sixth, fifth and fourth respectively. She then went on to win three gold medals at the ITU Triathlon World Championships in 2010, 2011, and 2012. She also holds the crown as the top-ranked athlete in the women’s TRI-2 class, reserved for above-knee amputees.

Jim Abbott

Born without a right hand, Abbott finally achieved his dream of pitching for the majors. In 1989, Abbott joined the California Angels as a rotating pitcher. He earned an 18-11 record with a 2.89 ERA, earned run average, in his third year in the majors. In one of his most memorable moments on the field, Abbott pitched a no-hitter in 1993 against the Cleveland Indians.

Natalie du Toit

The South African swimmer had her left leg amputated at the knee when she was just 17, but that didn’t stop her from accomplishing her dream of becoming an Olympic athlete. She became one of the few athletes with disabilities to ever compete in the Olympics, participating in the 2008 Beijing Summer Games. She finished 16th in the 10K open water race without using a prosthesis. “In the water, I’m just like everyone else,” she said.

Oz Sanchez

Sanchez served in the Marine Corps for six years and was later paralyzed in a 2001 motorcycle accident. Following a long recovery period, he set his sights on the Paralympics. “I managed to pull out of my post-injury depression. I took a proactive approach to life and once again took the bull by the horns,” Sanchez said.

He earned a gold medal in the para-cycling time trial and a bronze in road racing at the 2008 Beijing Games. He went on to win another gold medal at the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championships in Italy. Sanchez finally returned to the Paralympics for the 2012 London Games. This time, he took home a gold medal in the team relay race and a bronze in the individual time trials.

Jessica Long

Born with fibular hemimelia, Long had both of her lower legs amputated when she was just 18 months old. At the age of 12, she became the youngest member of the US Paralympics in Athens in 2004, earning three gold medals in the 100-meter freestyle, 400-meter freestyle and the 4×100 meter freestyle. From there, she went on to break 18 world records in 2006 at the IPC Swimming World Championships in South Africa. Her total medal count is now up to 17!

Get a Disability Insurance Quote Online

These amazing stories of athletes with disabilities are a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Perseverance and determination can help us overcome any setback. If an illness or accident should affect your health, you need to have the tools to put your life back together. Protect your ability to make a living by purchasing a disability insurance policy. offers free quotes with comparison cost and benefit analysis. Stay ahead of the game with disability insurance.