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Pam Fernandes, «U.S. Olympic Spirit Award»

Sport: Tandem Cycling
Residence: Needham, Massachusetts

"I don't necessarily feel like a gifted athlete, I feel like someone who really wants to win, and wants to work hard," says Pam Fernandes. Her hard work has paid off with national cycling titles for eight consecutive years, three Paralympic and one world championship medal, and three medals, including two gold at the European championships in cycling.

At the 2000 Sydney Paralympics nothing, not even a broken foot, could stop Pam. She and her cycling partner Al Whaley won the gold medal in the 1-kilometer time trial, setting World and Paralympic records. They also won a silver medal in the tandem match sprints.

Pam was the first woman Paralympian to receive the prestigious U.S. Olympic Spirit Award given by the U.S. Olympic Committee to U.S. athletes who best exemplify the spirit of the Olympics through the courage and determination they demonstrate.

Pam has had diabetes since she was four years old, and became legally blind at the age of 21. After numerous surgeries, five years of dialysis, and an uncertain future, she received a new kidney in 1987 and her life began to change. Today she's an outstanding athlete and professional motivational speaker among her many activities.

"I believe in taking your situation and doing the best you can with it," says Pam. "Being blind certainly doesn't define who I am. On a bike, I have the freedom to push my body hard, to go fast. On the back of a bike, I don't have a disability."
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