American Paralympic swimmer Victoria Arlen is changing gears and heading to the ESPN network beginning in January. Arlen, who earned four Paralympic medals at the 2012 Games in London, is slated to join the sports media network in a role reporting for ESPNW, SportsCenter, as well as the X Games.
Due to suffering from a rare viral disease known as transverse myelitis at the age of 11, Arlen lost the use of her legs and was rendered in a ‘vegetative state’ for nearly four years. Several months after an unexpected recovery, Arlen took a liking to water and her competitive swimming career was born.
As a Paralympic athlete, Arlen actually retired from swimming in 2013 after having accused the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) of ‘humiliating and targeting’ her following a controversial ban from Montreal’s IPC World Swimming Championships that same year. She was initially banned for having “failed to provide conclusive evidence of a permanent eligible impairment.”
Arlen was also involved in a controversial situation in London, after having to launch an appeal against the decision declaring her initially ineligible to compete. She ultimately won the appeal, as well as four medals, at the 2012 Games.
Says ESPN Executive Vice President John Wildhack of the network’s attraction to Arlen, “We were so impressed by Victoria’s work for us covering the 2015 Special Olympic World Games over the summer, and we are thrilled to have her aboard and contributing across additional ESPN properties and platforms. “Victoria is an extremely talented and inspiring young woman who will be certain to bring an unique and diverse perspective to our content.”
The 21-year-old Arlen was nominated for an ESPY award, the network’s highest sports achievement honor, in 2012 after her Olympic performance. She was specifically nominated for the ‘Best Female Athlete With a Disability” ESPY.
Of the new role, Arlen excitedly commented, “It’s pretty surreal. Absolutely a dream come true. I feel very fortunate.” She continued, ”Sports and it’s ability to unite us is such a wonderful thing. To be part of the ESPN family is amazing. It doesn’t feel like a job. It’s my passion.”