A “Lucky” Olympian

By Andréa Maria Cecil

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After an accident left her without the use of her legs, Chile’s Francisca Mardones discovered wheelchair tennis. And the rest of the world discovered her. Andréa Maria Cecil reports.

When Francisca Mardones was 5, she dreamed of being an Olympian. Her wish would be granted. But not in the vein of her childhood imagination. Fate, it seems, had slightly different plans.

A multi-sport athlete in high school, Mardones got a job as an administrator for a group of luxury villas in the Caribbean after college. The year went down in the history books as a record-setting one in the Atlantic hurricane season, with five storms reaching Category 4 strength. Hurricane Lenny was one of them. In November, the storm made its way toward the island of Culebra, where Mardones was working

In the 155-mile-per-hour winds, Mardones slipped and fell about 14 feet into a ravine.

“As soon as I fell, I knew the situation was serious,” she wrote in an email in Spanish.

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