olympics

Meet Poland’s One-Armed Olympic Table Tennis Player

It’s hard to get more inspiring than Poland’s Natalia Partyka.

SAEED KHAN / Getty Images

Natalia Partyka was eliminated by the Netherlands’ Jie Li this afternoon from the Olympic Individual Table Tennis tournament in the Round of 32, which, though disappointing, would be impressive for anyone. Being one of the top 32 women in the world in any field is a herculean task that few people will ever get to accomplish. So for Poland’s Natalia Partyka to do it despite being born without a right hand and forearm is particularly mind-blowing.

The Polish Partyka competed in her first Paralympics at the ripe old age of 11, and has never looked back. London marks her second straight Olympic games, and the twenty-three year old is one of only five athletes to ever participate in both the Paralympic and able-bodied summer games (though South African runner Oscar Pistorius will expand that list to six next week). This year marked her first foray into the individual Olympic competition.

Though she was eliminated today, she will compete next Friday in the Women’s team event, and you should make sure you find time to check it out. Seeing her play table tennis is enough to inspire you to want to do something more with your life. When’s the last time someone playing table tennis made you feel like that?

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