Melissa Stockwell lost her leg to a roadside bomb just one month after being deployed in Iraq. She was the first female soldier in US history to lose a limb in active service, and she became the first Iraq War veteran to qualify for the Paralympic Games four years later. After competing at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics in swimming, Stockwell transitioned to the triathlon and has competed in that sport ever since. She earned three consecutive world titles from 2010 to 2012. When paratriathlon debuted as a Paralympic sport in 2016, Stockwell secured a spot on Team USA and earned a bronze medal as American women swept the podium in the PT2 division.
Away from competing:
One of the most recognizable US Paralympians, Stockwell has a thriving career as a public speaker, advocate, and author. Her memoir, The Power of My Choice: My Journey from Wounded Warrior to World Champion, came out in 2020. Her Chicago-based nonprofit, Dare2tri, encourages and supports paraathletes throughout the training and competition process. Stockwell also holds leadership positions with USA Triathlon, the USA Triathlon Women’s Committee, and the Wounded Warriors Project. As if that wasn’t enough, Stockwell is also a licensed prosthetist and the mother of two kids.
In their own words:
“Life is too short. You might as well do the things you want to do. Don’t wait for tomorrow to do them. You should do them now.”
“I gain so much through sports. Being involved with them makes me feel as though I am whole again and can accomplish anything I put my mind to.”
Prior Paralympics: 2008, 2016
- Sport: Triathlon
- Limb Difference: Left above knee
- DOB: 1/31/80
- Residence: Chicago, IL
- College: University of Colorado-Boulder
- Classification: PTS2