Marla Runyan

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Meet the extraordinary athlete and runner Marla Runyan. Diagnosed blind after contracting Stargardt's Disease. Winner of 5 Gold medals in the 1992 Barcelona Para Olympics’. The first disabled woman to compete in the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. In 2002 Marla held three US 1500m running titles and was No1 in the US for the 5000m and marathon. Author of "No Finish Line: My Life as I See It" and ambassador for the Perkins School for the Blind.
"We all have disabilities whether it’s a physical disability or not.”  Marla Runyan


Why Marla Runyan is Extraordinary

Marla Runyan has achieved Academic and Olympic excellence while being legally blind.

Marla competed in the able-bodied Olympics, Sydney 2000 and secured 8th place on the track in the 1,500m. This inspirational achievement proves that physical disability does not define who you are. “We all have disabilities whether it’s a physical disability or not,” says Marla who never thinks of her blindness as an impediment to being a great athlete. Marla shows that through one’s dedication, perseverance, passion, and self-belief what may at first seem impossible can be made possible.

Marla has also used her achievements and public profile to give back to the community by being a teacher, mentor, motivator, and educator to others with physical disabilities. This is through her ambassadorship with the Perkins School for the Blind, her assistance with Camp Able, her promotion of the half marathon named in her honor (The Marla Runyan Camarillo Half Marathon and 5K), or as a celebrity speaker.

Marla Runyan has released her autobiography, "No Finish Line: My Life as I See It," in 2002. Sally Jenkins helped her tell her story to the public. Lance Armstrong had this to say about her so-called disability: "Blind? I think there's no doubt that Marla Runyan can see things much clearer than most of us with 20/20 vision." Her book tells of her story as a child being diagnosed with Stargardt's disease and how she mustered the courage to still live normally despite her physical disability.

As long as we truly believe, persistently work, and see the challenges as gifts not obstacles, we all have the opportunity to become extraordinary.

Top Reasons why Marla Runyan is Extraordinary

  1. The first legally blind athlete who competed with able-bodied elite sports professionals.
  2. Secured 8th place in the 1,500m event during the able-bodied Sydney 2000 Olympics.
  3. Survived and excelled in sports even after having been diagnosed with Stargardt's disease as a child.
  4. Won a total of five Gold medals in the 1992 Barcelona Women’s 100m, 200m, and 400m, 1992 Women's Long Jump, and 1992 Women's Pentathlon Paralympics.
  5. Won one Silver medal in Women's Shot Put in the 1996 Paralympic Games.
  6. Won Gold in the 1500m run at Winnipeg.
  7. Marla completed the New York Marathon in 2.27.10 coming in fourth place in 2002, making her the fastest American in the race and the second fastest woman ever to compete and finish the race.
  8. She currently holds the Paralympics World Records in the B3 division in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, and 1500m, High Jump, Long Jump and Pentathlon.
  9. She serves as an Ambassador for the Perkins School for the Blind, the first school solely dedicated for the blind in the United States.
  10. Is a successful motivational speaker.

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