In early 2008 Olesya Vladykina lost her left arm in a bus accident in Thailand.
Already a keen swimmer and with a strong philosophy of “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” Olesya decided to try out for the Beijing 2008 Paralympics. She competed and was crowned Paralympic champion, breaking the world record in the 100m breaststroke. She dedicated her gold medal to her best friend, who had sadly died in the bus accident.
Two years later, Vladykina proved her class, winning the world title in the 100m breaststroke at the 2010 IPC Swimming World Championships in the Netherlands. She added a silver medal in the 200m individual medley and two bronze medals in the 50m freestyle and the 4x100m medley relay.
At the 2011 IPC Swimming European Championships, Vladykina impressed her rivals by winning a total of seven medals, including the gold medals in her favourite event, the 100m breaststroke, as well as the 200m individual medley and the 50m freestyle. In addition, she won two silver medals (100m freestyle, 4x100m medley relay) and two bronze medals (100m backstroke, 4x100m freestyle relay).
In her second Paralympic Games in London, Vladykina won one of each medal and thrilled the crowds with some epic battles against USA’s Jessica Long and Great Britain’s Heather Frederiksen.