Natalie Bieule Overcomes Loss of Leg to Compete in Rio Paralympics

It's a good thing Natalie Bieule doesn't believe in limits. If she did, she'd never have become a nearly overnight Paralympic champion.

"The more you tell me I can't, the more I try to prove you wrong," Bieule said.

Can't is a word she heard a lot after a life-changing car accident in 2001. Bieule was 18-years-old when a drunk driver collided with her car. When she woke up at the hospital, her mother told her the news: her leg would have to be amputated.

"I said, 'I don't care. Are all my organs in there that I can still have children?' and she said, 'Yes, but they amputated your leg,' and I'm like, that's fine, I can still have kids," Bieule said.

Now a mother of two girls, Bieule balances taking care of kids and training in the discus for the Rio Paralympics, "I've still got two legs. [One] might be made out of carbon fiber, but I still have two legs."

When Bieule started throwing discus, she had never even picked one up. Seven months later, she set a record and won gold at nationals.

"It was one of the most rewarding experiences ever," Bieule said.

Shortly after, she got pregnant with her second child. Instead of taking a break, she kept training, pushing herself to make sure her oldest daughter never looked at her as "somebody that's missing a leg."

"I wanted her to look at me as someone who's doing more than what able-bodied women are doing," Bieule explained.

Just three months after a C-section, Bieule defended her national championship.

Growing up, Bieule had dreams of being a dancer. Her family is Cuban and her dad taught her how to salsa. But after her car accident, she was told she'd never be able to dance again.

"I remember when they told me, I was like, 'I'm gonna prove you guys wrong.' I locked myself up in a room, practiced all the turns, all the steps, and on Father's Day, I gave my dad a salsa dance. I'll never forget the look in his eyes when he told me, he's like, 'You dance better now than you did before," she explained.

For Bieule, discus is like dance, and she's ready to keep proving people wrong, on the biggest stage of all in Rio, "I want to thank everybody who believed in me, and those who didn't believe in me. Look at me now."

She will go for the gold in Rio this September. This year, NBC is showing 66 more hours of Paralympics coverage than the 2012 games in London.

Contact Us