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Paralympians 'Dream, Drive, Do' In London

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Team USA wheelchair sprinter Anjali Forber-Pratt may have won two bronze medals at the Beijing Paralympics, but she told NPR's Michel Martin that competing in London this year has blown her away.

"Oh my goodness, the stadium itself is just unbelievable!" says Forber-Pratt. "There's about 80,000 fans, and everyone is just genuinely excited to support all of the athletes here. It's surreal."

She says that the sound from the stadium carries a mile away to where the athletes live. "Whenever there's a UK athlete ... you can actually hear the roar of the crowd," she laughs.

Forber-Pratt was paralysed from the waist down when she was a toddler. She grew up in Natick, Massachusetts which happens to be the eight mile marker of the Boston Marathon.

"For me being a young five-year-old, I saw people in racing wheelchairs, particularly, Jean Driscoll, go whizzing by, going 25 miles per hour," says Forber-Pratt. "It opened my eyes to the world of possibility that was out there, and this life that I could live."

She started "bothering" her parents for a racing wheelchair of her own, and got her start through local organizations which offered programs for kids with disabilities, "my career took off from there," she explains.

When asked what life-lessons she has learned from competing in sports, Forber-Pratt points to her own personal motto, "Dream. Drive. Do," and particularly the word "Drive."

She says "whether I'm competing in a longer race or a shorter race, we all have those tough days when ... it's a struggle to have everything come together."

Forber-Pratt recently completed her Ph.D., and she says that drive and determination certainly translates to other aspects of her life.

The South African "blade-runner" Oscar Pistorius made a big impact on a lot of people watching the Olympics and the Paralympics. When asked whether competition like this changed the attitudes of people without a disability, Forber-Pratt says "I think it opens people's eyes to realizing what is possible. Disability or not, we're all athletes here competing."

She says that Pistorius' legacy is putting a spotlight on the Paralympic movement.

"I think that's super-exciting and we thank Oscar, and we thank all his competitors and some of my fellow Team USA athletes who are on the track with him too," says Forber-Pratt.

She's in a 400M final on Saturday, and is excited about her invitation to the White House to meet fellow Olympians and Paralympians in the nation's capital.

She acknowledges that there has been progress in the way the Games have been covered this year, but does "look forward to the day there'll be even more coverage of the Paralympics back home."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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