Joe Berenyi began cycling seriously years before he lost his right arm and severely injured his left knee in a construction accident in 1994. Recovery took many hospital stays, skin grafts, and knee surgeries. When he finally was able to return to cycling, Berenyi started with a modified mountain bike that he could ride with one arm. In 2009 he entered his first outdoor cycling race as an amputee, competing against able-bodied cyclists, but after getting in touch with a coach who had experience with disabled athletes Berenyi switched to paracycling. He went on to win three medals and set a world record at the 2012 London Paralympic Games, then earned another medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
Away from cycling:
Berenyi and his wife, Jill, have three daughters. His priority is spending time with his family.
In their own words:
“Someone once asked me which I’d rather have: both of my arms or that gold medal? I couldn’t really answer it then, and I can’t answer it now. Sure, I wish I was totally whole, but cycling has given me this incredible life and I’m grateful for that.”
“I like so much about riding. I like that it’s at once a loner’s sport and an activity that offers so much camaraderie. And I like to jump in open races and know that no one will give me special treatment, that people still bump me and ride shoulder to shoulder and that no one is going to let me ride off the front.”
“There are things I literally can’t do. I can’t run and I can’t clap. But I can race a bike. So as long as I can line up with guys half my age and compete, I don’t see any reason to stop.”
Prior Paralympics: 2012, 2016
1 🥇 2 🥈 1 🥉
- Sport: Cycling
- Limb Difference: Right above elbow
- DOB: 11/12/68
- Residence: Aurora, IL
- College: Waubonsee Community College
- Classification: MC5