Kelly Elmlinger


The Backstory:
During three tours of duty as an Army medic in Iraq and Afghanistan, Elmlinger returned to the US and began working with amputee soldiers at a San Antonio rehab center. During her stint at the facility she was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, in her left leg. Elmlinger had the leg amputated below her knee in 2016 and turned to running, a lifelong passion, during her recovery. She began elite-level competition in 2018 and won the US Paratriathlon National Championship that year. She qualified for Tokyo in June 2021 by winning the Americas Triathlon Para Championships in the PTS4 classification.

Away from the racecourse:
An avid cook, Elmlinger has dreamed of opening her food truck once she retires from racing. She remains deeply connected to the military community via the Wounded Warrior Project.

In their own words:
“It felt like I’m winning a race, and I’m also winning at life. I have a place here. I had someone tell me, ‘You’ll never run the same again.’ I tucked that away. This feels pretty darn normal.”

“Wearing a uniform for 20-plus years and now getting to transition into a different uniform and still continue to represent the United States and my family—not a lot of people get [to do] this.”

“Here I am, 40-plus years old, and I’m running the same time as I did when I was 18, 19 years old. That’s awesome to me!”

Learn more:
Team USA page
Wounded Warrior Project, “From Army Nurse to Paratriathlete”
Sports Illustrated, “How Kelly Elmlinger’s Fateful Work Led Her to the Paralympics”


1st-time Paralympian



  • Sport: Triathlon
  • Limb Difference: Left below-knee
  • DOB: 7/9/1979
  • Residence: San Antonio, TX
  • College: University of North Carolina
  • Classification: PTS4