BUFFALO, N.Y. — Competing in the World Rowing Championships is pretty impressive for a 17-year-old, but perhaps more impressive than that is the fact that Maddy Eberhard just started rowing two years ago.
Eberhard began rowing with friends at the West Side Rowing Club as a way to stay in shape during the sled hockey off-season. At age 13, she made the U.S. Women's National Sled Hockey Team.
"I think the sports are two completely different sports, but I love them equally. Each has the benefits to each other. The training crosses over very well for both sports," said Eberhard.
Eberhard learned more about adaptive or para-rowing and fell in love with the sport.
"I knew that I had potential in the sport, and I didn't want to waste that. So I think I just stayed focused over the years to just get the most out of the sport that I could," said Eberhard.
Eberhard was born with Larsen syndrome which causes her joints to dislocate. She wears leg braces to help her walk and to avoid injury, and unlike regular rowers, she doesn't use her legs at all to propel her. It's all upper body and core strength.
"I think having a disability is one of the best things to happen to me because it has allowed me to get to these amazing places, allowed me to advocate for myself and help other kids born with disabilities, to be themselves and express themselves," said Eberhard.
The World Rowing Championships are being held in Austria. Competition begins Sunday, August 25 and runs through September 1.
Eberhard will compete in the PR-2 rowing event. In addition to winning at the World Championships, she also has her sights set on the 2020 Paralympic games. Rowing trials for that are in April.
Click here to donate to Eberhard's GoFundMe page.