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Beauty Queen Turned Paralympic Athlete

When life threw Annalisa Minetti a curve ball, she didn’t hang her head and retreat to the dugout. She lined up in the batter’s box ready to swing at her dreams with full determination. As a singer turned beauty queen, Minetti was diagnosed with two degenerative eye diseases, retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration, in the early 90s. With her singing career emerging during the early stages of her fight against losing her eye sight, she began modeling and eventually won the title of Miss Lombardy in 1997, which allowed her to enter the Miss Italy pageant. Though Minetti didn’t win the title, she was the first blind contestant to enter the contest. As her stardom launched into full swing, her music career took off fulfilling her dreams – but she didn’t stop there.

The look of sheer determination. Italian Paralympic athlete, Annalisa Minetti with her guide Andrea Giocondi took the bronze medal in the 1500m T12 event at the 2012 Games.

After the birth of her son in 2008, Minetti decided to pursue another aspiration – to become an athlete. With a love of running, she took up track and within two years, she earned Italian records for the 800m and 1500m distances. Minetti’s athletic accomplishments laid the foundation for her pursuit of another dream – to medal in the Paralympics.

As the third place finisher, Minetti earned the bronze medal and set a world record for her class at the 2012 Paralympics in the 1500m race for the T12 division. Since athletes with varying disabilities participate in the games, each event has several divisions based on type of disability so that the competitions are fairly matched. Though Minetti is a T11 athlete (an athlete who is blind in both eyes) she competes in the T12 division, which is the category for track athletes who are visually impaired. As each runner’s vision varies, some athletes run blindfolded with a guide. Minetti ran with her guide, Andrea Giocondi to take home the bronze medal.

Minetti trails gold medallist Elena Pautova of Russia and silver medallist Elena Congost of Spain in the women's 1500m - T12 in the Paralympic Games.

Though the 2012 Paralympic Games are complete, the inspiration from all of the athletes reigns on. Watching those who fight through disabilities compete is truly a humbling experience – and one that reminds us to KEEP RUNNING. No. Matter. What.

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