Getting To Know Paralympian Shirley Reilly

Shirley Reilly is one of the best wheelchair racers in the world. Photo:

The triple medalist prepares for the New York City Marathon.

From: NYRR Media

A three-time Paralympian, 27-year-old Shirley Reilly won her first medal when she took silver in the 5000 meters at the 2012 London Games on September 2. Five days later, she took her second, a bronze at 1500 meters. Then, less than 48 hours after that, the University of Arizona junior who lives and trains in Tucson made it a complete set, winning the marathon gold medal in a sprint finish. Even before her medal haul in London, Reilly had been in the midst of the best year in her career, first defending her title in the Honda LA Marathon and then edging five-time winner Wakako Tsuchida for victory in the Boston Marathon. On November 4, the Alaska native will compete in the ING New York City Marathon for the fourth time; her best finish so far in the race has been fifth in her 2005 debut.

  1. My spine and hearing were damaged when I was deprived of oxygen after being born six weeks early. When I was 2, my parents moved from Barrow to San Jose, CA, so that I could be closer to the best medical care.
  2. I’m half Irish and half Eskimo, and I hope to work in Homeland Security after I graduate.
  3. I met my boyfriend and training partner, Sean Eres, when I was 8 or 9 and he was on the wheelchair basketball team that my team was playing against. Funny that we met at a basketball game, because my grandfather, James Reilly, played for Georgetown in the NCAA championship game in 1943.
  4. Winning the Boston Marathon this spring was my big breakthrough. To beat someone I didn’t think I could beat was an incredible rush for me.
  5. I competed in five events in London, winning those three medals and finishing fourth in the 400 meters and sixth in the 800 meters. Going into London I thought that I could win medals in all five, but it’s hard to be disappointed in a gold, silver, and bronze. I was lucky to even make the 5000 final after falling into a railing in the prelim, much less win silver for my first Olympic medal ever.

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