CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A paralympic swimmer from North Carolina won two gold medals at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games this past summer. It was an achievement she had dreamed of since childhood.
What You Need To Know
Hannah Aspden won a gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games
She completed the race in 1 minute and 9 seconds
She also won a gold medal in the 4x100-meter medley relay
Hannah Aspden has always been drawn to the water. She grew up in Cary and started swimming at 4 years old. She began doing it competitively since she was 8. But it hasn’t been easy. She swims with one leg.
“I wanted to do what everyone else was doing and prove that I could be here and do that,” Aspden said.
Aspden was born with congenital hip disarticulation, and she was born without a left leg.
“Even if it was something I had to adapt or do a little bit differently, I always wanted to find my own way of doing it,” Aspden said.
That’s exactly what Aspden did with her training. She spent several hours every day in the pool leading up to the paralympics with a big focus on her arms.
“My kick isn’t as strong, so I focus more on the upper body,” Aspden said.
One of her favorite arm exercises is climbing a rope over the pool. The movement requires pure arm strength.
“It was a great way to get some strength training in the water, but in a different, more fun way,” Aspden said.
All this training paid off for her and her teammates. Aspden won an individual gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympic Games for doing the 100-meter backstroke in 1 minute and 9 seconds. She also won gold with team in the 4x100-meter medley relay.
“When I touched the wall and it was all completely quiet, it was hard to understand exactly what had just happened,” Aspden said. “It didn’t quite hit me at first.”
Aspden is now a senior at Queens University in Charlotte and continues to swim. She had a message to share with others.
“Nothing is impossible, keep challenging yourself and believe in yourself,” Aspden said. "I know it sounds cliche, but it is true. If you can believe it, you can do it.