LONDON - Minnesota paralympian and world champion swimmer Mallory Weggemann will be forced to compete against more able-bodied swimmers after losing an appeal to her sport's governing body.
Weggemann was among a handful of U.S. athletes who was reclassified by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The decision comes just days before Weggeman was to begin competition in 7 events at the London 2012 Paralympics.
The reclassification means she will swim in just 5, against stiffer competition.
Weggemann, who lost the use of her legs following a routine procedure for back pain, was upset at the ruling and posted the following message on her blog.
"Just hours before opening ceremonies, we received the news that our appeal for my reclassification was denied. The IPC confirmed my new classification as a S8/SB7/SM8 moving me up from the S7/SB6/SM7 classification where I have competed for the past three and a half years. I feel as though the system has failed me, as well as other athletes. A system that we as athletes trust to do the right thing and maintain the integrity of the sport but also protect us as athletes to create an equal playing field for all."
"After hearing word that our appeal to overturn the classification result had been denied I lost faith in that system. I have trained the past four and a half years for these games and within less then 24 hours before my first race was supposed to start it all changed, everything I had prepared myself for these past four years changed right there and then."
"I understand change. I understand what it is like to have your life as you know it change in the blink of an eye. I went through that in 2008 when I was paralyzed. I walked into a clinic for a routine epidural injection and I never walked out. In that moment my life changed. My life changed again about four months later when I found my way back to the water again. After being a life long swimmer I found my love and passion for the sport unchanged. After seeing Trials for the US Paralympic Swim Team for the 2008 Games I was inspired to fight. To not let my new "disability" limit me, define me, or stop me from believing in what my future could hold. That day changed my life, my swimming saved me and allowed me to not only hope again but to believe again."
"Coming into London for these Games and reflecting on my journey these past four and a half years it was a dream come true to not only be here but to know that I have pushed my body to new limits and overcome adversity. The values of the Paralympics are courage, determination, inspiration, and equality. These four values are consistent with how I live my daily life and are why I am so passionate about the Paralympic movement. With that said as I look to compete in my first event on Saturday I plan to rise above and not let this defeat me. I see this as a new opportunity to demonstrate that when life and people knock you down each and every one of us still has the ability to overcome and rise to the occasion."
"This is a moment that I have poured my heart and soul into and although I do not agree with the decision that was brought down yesterday evening I do believe that everything happens for a reason and it is my hope that with this I can help change the system so there is more protection for athletes like myself. For these next ten days I will be racing, not the races I intended but none the less I will be competing for Team USA and I plan to continue do what I have done these past four years and push it to limit no matter what the classification. I want to say a special thank you to my family and sponsors for all of their overwhelming support throughout this process. I am truly humbled to have such an incredible support group."
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )