Playing Para sports may have been born from necessity for Andrea, but before long the German powerhouse became one of the dominating forces on the Paralympic scene in summer and winter sports. She tried out wheelchair basketball first and eventually expanded her skills to Para cross-country skiing, Para biathlon, wheelchair racing and handcycle racing.
To date, Andrea has won 37 World Championship medals and is a 27-time World Champion in cycling, Para biathlon and Para cross-country skiing.
"The sacrifice and effort which goes into [winning a gold Paralympic medal] is truly incredible, and we’re so proud to be a small part of Andrea’s team." – Toyota TMG engineer
Inspired by Andrea’s unrelenting determination to challenge what’s possible, Toyota approached her in 2012 to initiate a collaboration. Focused on comfort and speed, we have worked closely with Andrea to create custom-made lightweight\ carbon fibre solutions for her bike and sledge that would give the star athlete an even greater competitive edge at the Paralympic Games.
The water is where Brad Snyder feels most free. He learned to swim in Florida when he was still a toddler and began competing when he was 11 years old. Later, Brad became the captain of his swim team at the United States Naval Academy.
“I think living life with a visual impairment, living life blind, living life dark is what seemed impossible to us in the weeks after I sustained the injury… what I found in the Paralympics is that even though I can’t see, there’s still a whole world of things I’m still capable of.”
When an injured Brad returned home from Afghanistan, he had to learn to find his way through the dark. His family stayed by his side, helping the once-resilient soldier complete simple tasks such as eating, dressing and finding the bathroom.
Just months into recovery, Brad decided to return to the waters that he found so familiar. One year to the day after his losing his eyesight while on duty, he proudly stood on the Paralympic podium to take home the gold for Team USA. Among swimmers with complete visual impairment, Brad is the current world-record holder for the 100-meter freestyle.
Today, Brad has a new ambition: to adopt a second sport and compete in the Paratriathlon in Tokyo 2020.
Lauren was born missing her left arm below the elbow as well as both legs below the knees, but that couldn’t stop her passion for sports. She began hitting the slopes as a weekend pastime with her ski-enthusiast father, and skiing quickly grew into an impassioned vocation for the budding athlete. Despite tremendous challenges and setbacks, Lauren began racing with the Alberta Para-Alpine Ski Team when she was 14 years old.
"When I first started competing, I definitely thought being on the top step of that podium seemed impossible. But through years of training and hard work—and a great team behind me—I was able to translate that into ten medals at the Paralympic Games.”
Lauren continued defying what seemed impossible one downhill slope at a time. During her tenure with the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team, Lauren became one of the most decorated Para alpine skiers in the world, winning ten medals—eight gold, one silver and one bronze—at the Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games for Team Canada.
When announcing her departure from competitive skiing in 2010, Lauren stated that she wanted to be remembered as an athlete who faced challenges and overcame them to achieve success.
Twenty-three years old and living with rheumatoid arthritis in both legs, Han decided to climb a mountain that was 1,708 meters high. Once he reached the summit 17 hours later, he felt the rush of courage he would need to turn life’s barriers into possibilities.
When Han’s left leg was amputated seven years later after he was diagnosed with osteomyelitis, Han reflected on that triumphant moment on the mountain, and he decided to relentlessly pursue his lifelong dream to become a world-class athlete.
Han began competing in Para powerlifting, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby—all at the national level in the Republic of Korea—but it was on the ice that Han settled into his domain. A few years later, Han was shining as the Vancouver 2012 Paralympic Winter Games superstar. Next, Han will create a new summit for his hockey legacy when he hits the home ice at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in South Korea.
As soon as Michael learned how to walk, he took off running. His ski-enthusiast family made regular trips to the mountains near Canberra where he became addicted to the thrill of bombing down powdery slopes.
When Michael was nine years old, he was diagnosed with bone cancer and his leg was amputated above the knee. After a few challenging years recovering and relearning to walk with one leg, 11-year-old Michael was ready to re-explore the bounds of his physical abilities through sports.
A life of dedication and persistent training turned Michael into the most successful Australian Paralympic athlete at the Paralympic Winter Games. Michael also competes in Para athletics, mountain biking and the Para triathlon. “I don’t like to see things as impossible. For me, life is about testing my limits and seeing what is possible.”
Inspired by Michael’s story, Toyota Australia began working with the Paralympian in 2002, and the multitalented athlete became an official Toyota brand ambassador in 2007. Toyota is excited to stay by Michael’s side and experience where his next athletic dreams take him.
In 2015, after four years of living as a refugee in Turkey, Syrian swimmer Rami decided to make the trek to Europe to continue the pursuit of his Olympic dreams. The young man braved the dangerous waters of the Mediterranean on an inflatable dinghy, making landfall on a Greek island. From there, Rami embarked on a treacherous overland journey before reaching Belgium where he was granted asylum.
Finally, after his epic odyssey to Europe, Rami’s Olympic dreams were within reach. In 2016, the Syrian swimmer and ten other courageous athletes marched behind the flag of the International Olympic Committee’s Refugee Olympic Team at the Opening Ceremony in Brazil. Rami finished his first Olympic Games recording a personal best of 54.25 seconds in the 100m freestyle.
“My message to all refugees in the world: Even if you have a hard life, put it behind you and try to achieve your dreams.”
Rami is fulfilling his own dreams while bringing hope to the millions of people around the world currently displaced by deprivation and war.
Tyrone always dreamed of becoming a great athlete. He dreamt of one day playing cricket for South Africa and believed that this is what he was meant to do. He played for over 14 years before he realized that, because of his impairment, he was never going to realize his dream of playing cricket for South Africa. And, as he grew older and adapted to his corrective prosthetic left foot, Tyrone became increasingly convinced that Olympic grandeur was also not within his reach. Still, in each free moment after work at Toyota S.A. and on weekends, he enjoyed playing sports with friends and colleagues.
Later, while watching the shot put at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games on TV, Tyrone's dreams of athletic glory were suddenly reawakened; he witnessed athletes who were strong and tall with a build not dissimilar to his own competing on the world stage. This was the moment Tyrone knew that he belonged on that Paralympic field and it was time to embrace that.
Just eight years after watching the Beijing Paralympics, Tyrone stepped onto the field in Rio to compete in the shot put for Team South Africa. At his first-ever Paralympic Games, Tyrone proudly accepted the bronze medal for his country.
When Lucy moved from her hometown of Enugu to a group home for people with impairments, she discovered a world of opportunities available to her, including Para sports. She took particular interest in Para powerlifting—a competitive activity she could participate in from her wheelchair.
Shortly before the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, Lucy began a rigorous powerlifting training regime. That year—in her first competition—she took home the silver medal for Team Nigeria. Just a few years later, competing for the same weight class at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, Lucy broke the Paralympic Para powerlifting world record twice on her way to winning the gold medal.
Running only began playing a role in the Luik sisters’ lives when they were 24 years old; Liina first adopted the sport before encouraging her sisters to join her. It was a natural affinity for the sisters because, as Liina puts it, “Movement to us means freedom.” A healthy, competitive drive amongst siblings set their collective impossible goal to run against—and alongside—one another at the Olympic Games.
After months of relentless training, the Luik sisters qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and became the first and only triplets to ever participate. After the race—exhausted yet brimming with excitement—Lily, Liina and Leila linked arms, proud that together they had accomplished their collective dream of running together as Olympians
After her family moved back to their native Australia from Fiji in time for Shane to attend primary school, Shane began swimming competitively. A budding superstar, young Shane quickly rose through the ranks, and by the time she was 15, she had arrived on the Olympic stage.
Shane dominated the lanes at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games, winning five medals—three gold, one silver and one bronze. She simultaneously held world records in the 100-, 200-, 400-, 800- and 1500-meter freestyle, as well as the 200-meter individual medley.
Today, the prodigious swimmer dedicates herself to the Shane Gould Swimming Project—a non-profit that operates in Fiji, Sweden and in aboriginal communities in Australia by training aspiring swimmers with the necessary skills to keep them safe.
After dominating at the 1972 Games, Shane was catapulted into the limelight. The athletic young star recoiled from the pressures of fame, and she took up other challenges away from competitive swimming, returning to explore the wild ocean of her childhood. It wasn’t until two decades later that Shane returned to competitive swimming at the masters' level where she continued to break world records.