Wheelchair racer Amanda McGrory knew she'd won her second London Marathon, but she didn't see the visual evidence until the press conference. After watching herself hold off Great Britain's Shelly Woods in the final sprint in a near-photo finish (and a course record of 1 hour 46 minutes 31 seconds), she heaved a sigh of relief.
"My stomach's back up in my throat," she said. "That was too close for comfort."
It was the second marathon triumph in a week for McGrory, 24, who was fresh off winning in Paris. Her distinguished resume also includes marathon championships in New York City and Chicago. McGrory was a quadruple medalist at the 2008 Paralympics, where she won the 5,000-meter event and finished second at the marathon.
McGrory was paralyzed at age 5 when an allergy shot damaged her spinal cord and triggered a rare illness called transverse myelitis. She grew up in suburban Philadelphia participating in wheelchair basketball and racing, and eventually made her way to the University of Illinois where she became one of the top wheelchair racers in the country and earned a degree in psychology.
McGrory lives in Champaign, Ill., and is continuing to train with Illinois coach Adam Bleakney. At the moment, she's supplementing her prize money by working at a spa, but she hopes to build enough of a sponsorship base to become a full-time professional soon.
Here, McGrory talks about how she hopes to apply her experience in Beijing to the London Games: