Imagen
Female triathlete with left leg amputation celebrates as she crosses the finish line

Allysa Seely

Triathlon | Athletics
1

Allysa Seely has gone undefeated in every ITU race she has completed in the last two seasons. She expects to continue that in Lausanne, Switzerland, for the 2019 Grand Final, where she can defend her PTS2 world title.

Seely flew under the triathlon radar until she landed her first major victory at the 2015 Grand Final in Chicago, USA. The gold medals have kept coming since, especially when she won the first Paralympic gold in her class at Rio 2016. 

Seely was upset by Finland’s Liisa Lilja at the following year’s Grand Final in Rotterdam, Netherlands. But she has since turned around the results, looking unstoppable. Her only exception was the 2019 World Cup in Tokyo, Japan, which was also a Test Event for the 2020 Paralympics. The race was converted to a duathlon, which Seely did not finish. 

Seely was part of the Arizona State University triathlon club and a nationally ranked able-bodied triathlete before her diagnosis in 2010 with Chiari II Malformation, basilar invagination, and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which affect her brain, spine, and connective tissues. 

Several weeks after her first surgery, she returned to triathlons. She made her debut as an elite Para triathlete in 2012, earning bronze at the World Championships that year. Then in 2013, Seely had her left leg amputated below the knee due to complications and increased spasticity in her foot. That changed her classification but did not stop her from podium finished, earning her first Worlds title in 2015.

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment
Acquired
Classification
PTS2

Further personal information

Residence
Phoenix, AZ, USA
Occupation
Athlete, Motivational Speaker
Languages
English
Higher education
Psychology - Arizona State University: Tempe, AZ, USA

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She competed in her first triathlon in September 2008. After her illness she took part in her first event in April 2011.
Why this sport?
In her first year of university she decided that instead of making a New Year's resolution, she would make it her goal to do something new every year. Her first choice was competing in a triathlon, and she immediately fell in love with endurance sports. Following her illness she was determined to resume competing. "I really fell in love with the sport, the culture, the community. I stuck around [in triathlon] for a lot longer than I anticipated."
Name of coach
Derick Williamson [national], USA
Training Regime
She trains up to 30 hours a week at the US Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, United States of America.

General interest

Nicknames
Polly Pocket (defyingtheoddschasingadream.blogspot.com, 30 Jun 2011)
Hobbies
Walking her dogs. (Instagram profile, 17 Mar 2021; triathlete.com, 18 May 2020)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold in the PT2 event at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. (elle.com, 17 May 2021)
Injuries
In January 2020 she contracted an infection on her right leg, which required surgery. After four weeks on crutches, another infection required further surgery in March that year. After she returned to training she discovered in July 2020 that she had an infected bloodstream, and also had intermittent high fevers, which were later diagnosed as endocarditis, a heart infection. After six months in hospital, she returned to training in February 2021. (elle.com, 17 May 2021)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Even though [Para athletes] have disabilities, we're still fast. Each one of us is racing with a different disability, but we can hold our own, and we take pride in that. Don't underestimate us.” (triathlete.com, 18 May 2020)
Other sports
She has represented the United States of America in Para athletics, placing sixth in the T36 200m at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. (SportsDeskOnline, 26 Aug 2021)
Ambitions
To defend her gold medal in the PTS2 [previously PT2] event at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (Instagram profile, 24 Aug 2021; elle.com, 17 May 2021)
Impairment
At age 20 she was diagnosed with Chiari II malformation, basilar invagination and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, meaning that a portion of her brain had herniated into the spinal column and bent the brain stem. She had brain and spinal surgery, and after months of treatment was able to walk again. However the lasting effects of the condition led to a deterioration in the condition of her left foot, and her left leg was amputated below the knee in August 2013. She also has epilepsy as a result of the illness. (espn.go.com, 05 Jul 2016; spofit.org, 05 Aug 2014; allysaseely.com, 2014)
Other information
POSITIVE POSTPONEMENT
She required surgeries for a leg infection in January and March 2020. After the second operation, she asked her doctor to remove the stitches early so she could run in that month's national trials for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. On the eve of the event it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "It was definitely a hallelujah moment. I started to train again, and in July [2020], I went to the emergency room with an infection in my bloodstream and endocarditis [diagnosed in October 2020], a heart infection. I spent about six months away from home, away from training, away from feeling like myself. I started training for Tokyo again this February [2021], but I'm still having symptoms, including the fevers, pain, body aches, rashes." (elle.com, 17 May 2021)

FURTHER EDUCATION
She has a master's degree in interdisciplinary studies, psychology, and exercise and wellness from Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, United States of America. She also has a bachelor of science in biology, genetics, and cell and developmental biology from the same university, and in 2009 spent time abroad studying human and medical genetics at the University of Leeds in England. (LinkedIn profile, 01 Jan 2019)

Results

Unit Date Rank
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women PT2 Final Round 2016-09-11 1
Women's 200 m T36 Heat 1 2016-09-12 4
Women's 200 m T36 Final Round 2016-09-13 6