In one instant, on September 17, 2000, Tricia Downing went from being a competitive cyclist to a paraplegic requiring a wheelchair for mobility. Her life was changed forever, but Tricia’s competitive spirit and zest for life continued on. Through her experiences in both rehab and racing, Tricia has overcome adversity and learned what it takes to perform at the top of her game.
Having made the transition from able-bodied cyclist to an athlete with a disability, Tricia knows the true meaning of the words challenge and change, and has learned the importance of building mental toughness to deal with the obstacles we all face in reaching for our personal goals.
Tricia has completed over 100 races, including marathons, duathlons and triathlons, since her accident. She was the first female paraplegic to complete an Ironman triathlon in 2005 and qualified for the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in 2006 and 2010. In 2011, she competed as part of the U.S. Rowing team at the World Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
Tricia’s professional life has also been immersed in sports as she earned a master’s degree in Sport Management in 1995 and worked at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. She was the press officer for the USA Table Tennis team at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and for the USA Swimming team at the 1997 World University Games in Italy. Before becoming a professional speaker, she taught high school in the Denver Public Schools. Today she takes people on their journeys from start to victory, motivating each person to discover his or her own “inner champion”, just as she has. Receiving many sports accolades including being inducted into the Sportswomen of Colorado Hall of Fame, the 2006 Most Inspirational Athlete from the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the 2008 Courage Award from the Tempe Sports Authority, Tricia has truly excelled despite her life-altering injury.
In addition to her current sports pursuits, Tricia has completed master’s degrees in Disability Studies and Sports Management. She is also the Director for Camp Discovery, a camp for women in wheelchairs who want to explore fitness opportunities as well as create a support system of other women who have experienced mobility disorders/disabilities. In addition, she published her memoir: Cycle of Hope—A Journey from Paralysis to Possibility which debuted in June of 2010.