Click the play button above to listen to Kelly Crowley and Suzanne Scott share stories from their athletic careers and discuss the sensitive topic of classification of Paralympic athletes.

Kelly Crowley and Suzanne Scott


Kelly Crowley won two gold medals in swimming at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. Eight years later, she won two bronze medals in cycling at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Why did she make the switch from swimming to cycling?

“We don’t have a very robust athlete development pipeline,” Crowley said. “So when you retire from one sport, the national team directors from other sports are like, ‘Hey, there’s a talented athlete. Maybe they’re just burned out on that sport. Maybe they’re not really done. Maybe they want to try something new.’ ”

At the same time, Crowley said, she had gotten into bike riding with a group of friends and started dating the man who would become her husband – and he was a top amateur cyclist who encouraged Crowley to pursue her own cycling career.

Swimmer Suzanne “S.B.” Scott also was a successful Paralympic athlete, competing in swimming at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and London 2012 Paralympic Games and winning one silver medal and three bronze. Throughout her career and since, the classification of Paralympic athletes based on their abilities has been a hot topic.

“With any sport, with life in general, there are going to be people that try to find ways to cut corners and cheat the system,” Scott said.

“I always tried to trust that the classifiers knew what they were doing and did the best they could. It’s not a perfect system and I don’t think it can be. … I would work as hard as I possibly could and control the things I could control. It was my philosophy when I was training and is still my philosophy now.”

Listen to more of Crowley and Scott’s StoryCorps conversation about classification and their experiences in the Paralympic Games.

A Native American from tiny Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Billy Mills surged down the stretch to win the 10,000-meter run at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games, one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history.
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