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PR Fail: The Paralympics Are Picking on a Paralyzed Athlete
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Meet Victoria Arlen. Actress. Model. Athlete. World-record Holder. Gold Medalist. And...paralyzed. Well, if you ask the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)kinda paralyzed. 

That "kinda" differentiation is actually quite important because it is that bold description that gives the aforementioned IPC the authority — and the cold-blooded unconsciousness — to ban Arlen from competing  for her country in 2016. According to the National Post

Arlen was given some bad news shortly before the Paralympic World Swimming Championships: the 18-year-old from New Hampshire was set to compete, and was already in Montreal for the event, when she was "informed of her ineligibility for it and any future competitions." 

Ms. Arlen was paralyzed from the waist down seven years ago due to a rare neurological disorder of the spinal cord called transverse myelitis. She was in a coma for nearly two years [shortly after she was diagnosed with this disease]. She now uses a wheelchair and resumed competitive swimming at age 16. 

There's only one problem: Arlen may get her legs to move again. And for that, the IPC shows her the door. Stay classy, IPC. Whatever this disease is, it sounds terrible, as I am sure growing up without the use of your extremities wasn't the easiest thing to do. But hey, she did it. So much so, that Arlen was able to represent this country and torch the competition. Not one for embracing a touchy-feely story, the IPC wasn't sure what to do. They have a great athlete in Victoria but...meh?! I guess that's life in the big city, right? "Sorry, Victoria but you are just not "paralyzed...enough."

“I’m so heartbroken with what has happened. I feel numb and completely shocked with the turn of events,” said Ms. Arlen in a statement on Facebook Sunday. “To have trained so hard this past year and come so far only to be humiliated and targeted by the IPC for reasons unknown baffles me. Being penalized for maybe having a glimmer of hope of one day being able to walk again is beyond sad.”

And there's your #PRFail by the International Paralympic Committee who gets the inaugural  "Geriatric Gawker" award for being the biggest target for this year's "Hypocritical D-Bag of the Year." Are you kidding me, IPC?! She's paralyzed, just not enough for you, right? As Arlen has said, "I was penalized for having hope." Couth as she may be, Victoria Arlen is not going to go scorched earth on everybody involved with the IPC, so let the rest of us do it for you? 

IPC, this really blows, and I believe you could be Ray Charles and see the public flagellation this is setting up your Board of Misdirectors. So, cue the talking head speak: 

Chief of Paralympics for the United States Olympic Committee, Charlie Huebner also stated, "We are disappointed in the outcome. We feel strongly that this athlete is Paralympic-eligible and deserved the right to undergo classification evaluation in Montreal. To learn of her change in eligibility three days before a scheduled classification evaluation is not taking the best interest of any athlete into consideration. Regardless of the outcome, we also feel the IPC classification process has to improve for all athletes throughout the world."

Disappointed? At what? Technology for making sure she doesn't stay in the wheelchair where she belongs? Right...friggin' inventive geniuses trying to help the disabled. Shame on you all, you bunch of jerks. This is a girl who went from a wheelchair to a coma to a world record. And if that doesn't scream "Wheaties Box," then I'll go back to Raisin Bran. At least there, my body makes the guttural sounds this story is causing me to create. Good on ya' IPC. Keep up the good work. Go USA, except for your disabled people trying to be heroic and battle your ailments. In that case, blame Canada. 

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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