Jean Driscoll is an American wheelchair racer. She has lived her entire life with spina bifida, but she never let that stop her from achieving great heights!
Jean Driscoll was born on November 18, 1966, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was diagnosed with spina bifida at birth. During her childhood, Driscoll had issues walking but did not start to use a wheelchair until she was in high school. In fact, when she started to use her wheelchair she was worried about being confined by it and not being able to do things she enjoyed. In high school, it took her friends multiple attempts to convince her to go to a wheelchair soccer practice. But, once she was there she loved it. After this, she started to play many different kinds of wheelchair sports, such as basketball and racing.
Driscoll got so good at wheelchair sports she went to college to continue her athletic career. She attended the University of Illinois to play wheelchair basketball and run wheelchair track and field. This led to her having a wildly successful Paralympic career.
In 1988, Discroll competed in her first Paralympics in Seoul, South Korea. At the event, she competed in the wheelchair track and field races. Here she medaled bronze in the 200 and 400-meter races, silver in the 4×100 meter relay, and gold in the 4×200 meter relay. In 1989, she beat a competitor Candace Cable in the Lilac Bloomsday 12k in Spokane, Washington. In the same year, she competed in the Chicago Marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon. She went on to win the 1990 Boston Marathon and set a record time. In fact, she won the next 7 consecutive Boston Marathons. She was the first person to ever do that!
In 1992, she competed in her second Paralympics in Barcelona, Spain. At this event, she medaled gold in the 4×100 m relay. Her third Paralympics was in 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia, Here she medaled bronze in the 1500 meter race, silver in the 5000-meter race, and gold in the 10,000-meter race and marathon event. Her final Paralympic gold medal was in 2000 in Sydney, Australia. At this event, she medaled bronze in the 5000-meter race, silver in the 1500 meter race, and gold in the marathon event. Her career was very successful and let her travel all over the world!
“Successful people never give up. Disability is a characteristic like hair color; it’s not a defining principle. In wheelchair sports, people thought athletes with disabilities were courageous and inspirational. They never give them credit for simply being competitive.”Jean Driscoll
In 2012, she was initiated into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. In that same year, The Lincoln Academy of Illinois presented Driscoll with the Order of Lincoln Award, the highest honor given by the State of Illinois. Driscoll is also an advocate for athletes with disabilities. She supports the education of disabled athletes in Ghana, West Africa. She helped to develop the first Paralympic teams in Ghana