With the 2016 Paralympics now underway, the global audience is sure to be awed as they witness a slew of inspirational stories. With that said, few of the stories appear to be as compelling as the story of women’s world champion hand-cyclist, Justine Asher.
The 44-year old Asher hails from South Africa, where she now lays claim to being one of the most popular para-athletes in the country. It was 26 years ago that Asher became a paraplegic due to a serious car accident that almost claimed her life. As a young woman, she was constantly challenging herself to push beyond the bounds of her disability.
In November of 2012, she set herself on the path of destiny. After several years of determined training, Asher became a trailblazer in the sport of hand-cycling when she joined the fray and began entering local, regional, and world competitions.
After showing great promise in late 2012 and early 2013, she found herself facing yet another obstacle when she crashed during her first world cup event. The accident left her with fractures in both feet, which sent her to the sidelines and set back her progression. The injury only served to increase her determination as she would return to the circuit in 2014 with a vengeance.
First up was the UCI World Cup event in Castiglione, Italy, where she would win the gold in both the time trial and road race events. From there, she would go on to claim the gold at the Spanish World Cup event and head over to the United States where she took the World Championship title.
After claiming several major titles in 2015, she was honored by being named “Sports Woman of the Year” in the category of disabled women. As the number one ranked women’s hand-cyclist, she has left very little doubt about her standing as she has successfully claimed titles this year in South Africa and again in the Spanish World Cup. With the 2016 Paralympics on the horizon, she tuned up for a run at the gold with a big victory at the UCI Para-cycling World Cup 2016.
The 2016 Summer Paralympics are currently underway in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Para-cycling road event is scheduled to begin on September 14 with the finals scheduled for September 17. The journey has been long and hard, but Asher is a heavy favorite to make her dreams come true.