Edmonton’s Amanda Rummery is off to Lima, Peru, on Monday to compete at the 2019 Parapan American Games.
The competition is the athlete’s first event with Team Canada — no small feat, considering the 22-year-old had never done track before an ATV accident changed her life forever.
“Competing in front of an actual audience and in this huge stadium with so many other top athletes will definitely be intimidating,” Rummery said in an interview on CBC Edmonton’s Radio Active on Tuesday. “But I’m so excited for the competition and the atmosphere.”
Rummery was 17 and had just graduated from high school when she lost control of an ATV on a summer trip at her grandmother’s cabin in Kenora, Ont. The quad slammed into a tree.
She suffered a brachial plexus injury, severing the nerves from her left arm — her dominant arm at the time — from her spinal cord.
Rummery called the experience “surreal.”
“It’s still surreal because I had never broken a bone so at the time I thought that’s what it felt like to break a bone,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh you know, it’s normal to not have feeling in your arm and not be able to move your arm for a bit.'”
Despite multiple surgeries, the nerve damage was too much to recover. Last year, three years after the July 2015 accident, she had her arm amputated from the elbow.
She chose right away not to wear a prosthetic arm and probably never will, Rummery said.
“I am obsessed with my nub,” Rummery said. “I love how it looks every morning when I wake up. I just I love it. It’s very minimal.”
Took up track
While on the mend, Rummery started looking for a challenge. She had played house league soccer and basketball before the accident but found limited options in those sports for individuals with arm impairments, so she took up track.
She joined Edmonton’s Steadward Bears in September 2017, and is one of 13 para-athletes training under coach Maegan Ciesielski.
Rummery said being a track athlete gives a purpose in life that she never imagined.
She trains five or six days a week. In May, she took home three silver medals at the 2019 Desert Challenge Games in Phoenix, Ariz., breaking a Canadian record in the 400 metres with a time of 65.29 seconds.
The Parapan Am Games begin on Aug. 23, and currently, Rummery is ranked to make it to the 400 metre final. She is also competing in the 100 and 200 metres.
“It proves to me that hard work is what gets you results,” she said. “So that’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from track because I wouldn’t have gotten here without making sacrifices.
“I’m just thankful for all the opportunities that have come from this,” Rummery added. “Being in the best shape of my life and pushing myself to boundaries that I never thought possible.”
When it comes to her advice for someone feeling down after maybe suffering from an accident, Rummery is realistic.
“I would say ‘It is what it is. It happened and that was the cards you were dealt,'” Rummery said. “And I don’t think there’s any benefit to living in the past. You just have to accept what happened and that’s the only way you can move forward.”