Aimee Mullins defies conventional description, both on and off the track. As an athlete, she holds world records in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash and long jump. Off the track, she was one of three nationally chosen high school students to receive full scholarships awarded by the U.S. Department Defense due to academic performance and interviews. In May 1998, she graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, a dean's list major in history and diplomacy. She is writing a book on athletics, beauty and motivation. She is a model, actress and speaker, making personal appearances around the country and giving talks to companies, charities and schools. The fact that she is bilateral below-the knee amputee, born without fibula bones in both shins, has not hindered her success in any way.
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In August of 1995, Mullins decided she wanted to run track and field for Georgetown University. She had participated in athletics all her life, from skiing to soccer to softball and had always been able to compete against non-disabled kids. So when she called the university's renowned track and field coach, Frank Gagliano (who has coached 5 Olympians), there was no question as to whether she would become a part of his program. She told Gagliano she wanted to train for the1996 Paralympics in Atlanta. The following spring, she was a member of the Hoya women's track team, competing against able-bodied athletes. Her times were behind the competition, but in her first collegiate meet, Aimee ran the 100 meters in 16.70 seconds. In the ensuing year, her times dropped to 15.77 in the 100 and 34.06 in the 200, both unofficial world records in her class. She is the first disabled member of a Division I track team and competed in the '96 Games. Her latest challenge was the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
Since the Olympics in Atlanta, Mullins' life has changed dramatically. News of her accomplishments and courage spread into the hearts of millions of people. She has been featured in many forms of media, including features in Sports Illustrated for Women, NBC's Dateline, The Rosie O'Donell Show, Parade, Esquire, Jane and Cosmopolitan. She was recently selected as one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World." She won the "Disabled Female Athlete of the Year" from USA Track and Field, was 1997's "Women of Distinction" from the National Association of Women in Education, a nominee for ESPN's Arthur Ashe Award for courage to be presented at the ESPY Awards show in 1998. Mullins was named to the Disabled Sports, USA Advisory Council and was nominated by Sen. Max Cleland for a position on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
Her passion for running is equaled only by her drive and determination to make a difference in whatever she pursues. She says, "I want to do projects that challenge people's ideas of beauty and the myth that disabled people are less capable, less interesting. I want to expose people to disability as something that they can't pity or fear or closet, but something that they accept and maybe want to emulate. To me, beauty is when people radiate that they like themselves."
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