Amanda and Citi Partner for ”Every Step of The Way”
Amanda recently partnered with Citi Bank for a unique campaign leading up to the London Olympics! “Team Citi” features 13 Olympic and Paralympic alumni, qualifiers and hopefuls. This unique mix of talent was gathered by Citi to support an innovative and engaging program called “Every Step of The Way”. For information on Amanda’s involvement click HERE.
It all started with a bribe. Amanda McGrory thought of herself as a sprinter. She raced the short stuff and she was good at it. Former American marathon champion Scot Hollonbeck disagreed. He looked at Amanda, her lean physique, endless supply of energy and flawless technique, and saw a marathoner. Hollonbeck made a deal with Amanda. If she raced the 2006 Colfax Marathon in Denver, Colorado he would invite her to his world class training camp.
Hollonbeck had a hunch Amanda would be a good marathoner, but little did he know she would become the best in the world.
At the age of five, Amanda’s life turned in a drastically new direction when she was diagnosed with a rare disease called transverse myelitis, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. Always an energetic toddler, the Philadelphia-area native immediately adapted to life in a wheelchair and began a quest to find ways to be active at a high level. After an extensive rehabilitation program, Amanda attended a Variety Club camp in southeastern Pennsylvania, where a new sports program was starting up for children with disabilities. It was there, at the age of 10, that her parents enrolled her in a wheelchair sports program, and began her love affair with the sport of wheelchair racing.
Showing early promise Amanda began working with former USA wheelchair racer Mike King, in 1998, who was able to harness Amanda’s natural abilities. She quickly became one of the top junior racers in the country, capping her junior career with a trip to the Junior Games for the Disabled in Australia in 2004, where she won every track event longer than 100 meters.
Inspired by her success in Australia, Amanda returned to the US thirsty for more. She began attending the University of Illinois in the fall of 2004 and under the tutelage of the world class coaching staff at the university Amanda morphed into an international wheelchair racing superstar.
In May 2006, urged by her coaches and the aforementioned bribe, Amanda raced her first marathon. Having never run a competitive event longer than 5000m, Amanda finished 3rd in a time of 2 hours and 2 minutes. More importantly, she found a new challenge, and a love of distance racing.
One month after her first marathon Amanda ran a second, this time in Duluth, Minnesota. She won the race, cutting 17 minutes off her time to finish in 1:45, what would hold as one of the fastest marathon times of the year.
To prove that she was still competitive in shorter races, Amanda took the latter part of the summer off from marathoning to focus on the IPC Track and Field World Championships in Assen, Netherlands. At the World Championships Amanda won the 800m and took a silver in the 400m.
In the fall Amanda capped what most would consider a career year by finishing second at the Oita International Marathon in Japan, the largest wheelchair marathon in the world. She followed that, a week later, with a victory in the New York City Marathon, the most competitive wheelchair marathon in the world.
Her accomplishments grew again in 2007, as she won and set course records in marathons in Duluth, Denver, and Chicago, and finished second in the Boston Marathon. She also added “World Record Holder,” to her resume, shattering the 5000 meter mark at an event in Atlanta, establishing herself as a dominant force leading into the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.
Amanda did not disappoint in Beijing, winning the gold in the 5000 meters, silver in the marathon and a pair of bronzes in the 800m and the 4x100m relay, making her one of Beijing’s most decorated Paralympians. She capped the year off with a defense of her Chicago marathon title and a second place finish in New York.
Far from one dimensional, Amanda graduated in 2010 with a degree in psychology from the University of Illinois. While managing life as a professional athlete, she cannot fight the lure of the classroom and is currently taking web design classes at the local community college. Amanda is also a fervent supporter of the Variety Club in Philadelphia, never misses the opportunity to motivate and coach young wheelchair athletes at various camps, and works with USA Parlaympics to introduce wounded veterans to wheelchair athletics.