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Para Sports

Athletes who have competed at both Olympics and Paralympics

A total of 15 athletes have, so far, competed in both the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Pal Szekeres and Natalia Partyke

Pal Szekeres and Natalia Partyke 


Rajdeep Saha

Updated: 21 Aug 2021 11:40 AM GMT

Most may believe that participating in Paralympics as well as the Olympics is mutually exclusive. Contrary to popular belief, people have taken part in both games. There are a total of 15 athletes till now, who are proof, that competing in both the Paralympics and the Olympics is a possibility. Here, we look at those determined athletes who have achieved the unthinkable.

Neroli Fairhall

Neroli Fairhall (

The archer who hailed from New Zealand became the first paraplegic athlete to participate in an Olympics. She achieved the feat in 1984 at the Los Angeles Olympics. The athlete participated in Athletics and Archery at her first two Paralympics in 1972 and 1980, and won a gold in Archery at the 1980 games. After her Olympics appearance, she went on to compete in the 1988 and 2000 Paralympics as well.

Pal Szekeres

The next athlete who achieved a historic feat is Pal Szekeres. He became the first person to win a medal in both the Paralympics and the Olympics. Prior to his accident, he participated in the 1988 Olympics and won the bronze in the Team Foil event in Fencing. Even after being bound to a wheelchair, he went on to win the following accolades: a gold in the 1992 Paralympics, two gold medals in the 1996 Paralympics, and brought home a bronze each at 2000, 2004, and 2008 games.

Sonia Vettenburg

The wheelchair-bound Belgian shooter had participated in the 1984 and 1988 Paralympics, winning a medal both times. She also participated in the 10m Air Pistol event at 1992 Olympics.

Paolo Fentato

Paolo Fentato (Getty)

The Italian archer made history by being the first athlete who participated in the Olympics and Paralympics in the same year. She did so in 1996 when both the games were held in Atlanta. While she couldn't achieve a medal in the Olympics, she won a bronze in Women's Individual event and a gold in the Women's Team event at the Paralympics.

Marla Runyan

The American was the first legally blind athlete to compete in an Olympics. She took part in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and again in the 2004 games. Moreover, she is a 5-time gold medal winner at the Paralympics, four of which she won at the 1992 games.

Orazio Fagone

The Italian short-track speed skater had participated in three Winter Olympics (1988, 1992, and 1994). After an accident, in 1997, that made him an amputee, he took to para ice hockey and participated in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Paralympics.

Natalia Partyke

The one-armed Polish paddler became the youngest ever Paralympian when she participated in the 2000 games, at the mere age of 11. In the subsequent Paralympics, she set the record of being the youngest ever table tennis player to win a Paralympics gold medal. She then went on to participate in 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics.

Natalie du Toit

The South African became the first amputee swimmer to take part in an Olympics when she did so in 2008. She has also participated in 2004, 2008, and 2012 Paralympics.

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius (Britannica)

He became the first amputee sprinter to take part in an Olympics. He participated in the 2012 Olympics, and also in 2004, 2008, and 2012 Paralympics.

Assunta Legnante

The visually-impaired shot putter took part in the 2008 Olympics, after which she participated in the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. She even has a gold medal to her name, which she clinched at the 2012 Paralympics.

Pepo Puch

Before becoming a paraplegic, the equestrian had participated in the 2004 Olympics. After meeting with an accident, he competed in the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics, where he won two gold medals in the Freestyle event.

Ilke Wyludda

Before her leg had to be amputated, she was a three-time Olympian (1992, 1996, and 2000). Her paraplegia did not stop her as she took part in the shot put event at 2012 Paralympics.

Zahra Nemati

The Iranian archer took part in the 2016 Rio Olympics. She had a gold in the 2012 Paralympics, which she defended again in the 2016 Rio games.

Melissa Tapper

The Australian Table Tennis player first represented her country in the 2012 Paralympics. Then in 2016, she became the first athlete from her country to qualify for both the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Sandra Paovic

Another paddler, hailing from Croatia, had participated in the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Prior to her accident, she had represented her country in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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