In our previous article, we talked about the history of sports for the physically disabled. In this article, we will talk about George Louis Eyser, the first disabled athlete to participate in the Olympics.
Disabled athletes participated in the Olympics before the Paralympics. The first disabled person to participate in an Olympics was German-American athlete George Louis Eyser.
George Louis Eyser was born in Germany in 1870. He immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 14. He received American citizenship in 1984. In the following years, she worked as an accountant for a construction company and joined a local gymnastics club, Concordia Turnverein Saint Louis. Eyser had a great misfortune in his youth, although his exact date is not known. He lost most of his left leg after being hit by a train, but he didn’t give up. He started using a wooden prosthesis that allowed physical activities such as running and jumping to replace his lost left leg. Eyser continued to train with a wooden prosthetic leg, targeting the Olympics that would take place in 1904.
Eyser won a total of six medals, three of which were gold, at the 3rd Olympic Games of the modern era held in Saint Louis in 1904. These successes continued in the following years. Eyser went on to win medals at subsequent international events in 1908 (Frankfurt, Germany) and 1909 (in Cincinnati, Ohio).
There are many unknown points in the life of this successful athlete. It is not clear when and how he lost his left leg, as well as when and how he died. So far, there is no clear information about when and how he died. Still, his date of death is accepted as 6 March 1919. This means that he died at an early age (48). Although Eyser’s death was very early, his legacy lives on long and strong. As the first athlete to compete with a prosthetic leg at the Olympic Games, he also opened the door to subsequent athletes such as South African swimmer Natalie Du Toit who participated in the 2008 Beijing Games.
See you in our next article.