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Arlen will do fine: Exeter swimmer has the right stuff

August 12. 2013 7:02PM

Remote though it may be, the possibility that the extraordinary Victoria Arlen of Exeter could one day regain mobility in her legs is wonderful news. That this possibility has suddenly made her ineligible for the paralympic world swimming championships now taking place in Montreal seems cruel in the extreme.

We don’t presume to know the apparently intricate rules of disabled athletics. We can hardly keep up with what kind of “juice’’ A-Rod may have been taking.

But we have had the good fortune to meet and watch Victoria Arlen and we have a prediction: This young woman’s past successes are merely prologue. Whatever she sets her sights on, she will achieve and we expect fellow Granite Staters are going to hear a lot more from this poised and confident young woman in the future.

Last year, she captured world attention at the London Paralympic Games, setting a world record in winning one gold and earned silver medals in three other events. That is pretty heady stuff for a girl who was struck with a rare neurological disorder at age 11 and who was subsequently in a coma for two years.

The illness left her unable to use her legs, but Arlen turned misfortune on its head and taught herself to swim anyway. Her attitude not only helped her achieve a world record, it has become the kind of example that parents of other disabled children can point to. In fact, it is an inspiration for anyone who thinks life has given them lemons.

Our newspaper’s late owner, Nackey Loeb, lost the use of her legs as the result of a car crash. A rider of horses, a skier and tennis player and hunter before the accident, she nonetheless carried on. She told friends, “God doesn’t give you anymore than He thinks you can handle.’’

He apparently thinks Victoria Arlen can handle a lot. So do we.


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