7 Olympic athletes with epilepsy

  • July 23, 2021
  • 4
In this article

The Olympic games provide an amazing opportunity for us to see the greatest athletes in the world perform incredible feats of endurance and talent. Throughout history there have been many pro athletes with epilepsy who performed at the games. Besides competing at the very highest level, these athletes with epilepsy overcame both health and social challenges to reach the pinnacle of their sport.

Here are seven incredible professional athletes with epilepsy.

7 pro athletes with epilepsy

Pro athletes with epilepsy have participated in many Olympic games throughout history. Here are a handful of athletes with epilepsy who've participated in the Olympics and the Paralympics over the past few decades.

1. Florence Griffith Joyner

Florence Griffith Joyner - also known as FloJo - is the fastest woman of all time. FloJo set the world record for the women's 100 metres and 200 metres in 1988, and they still stand 33 years later! The California native also participated in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles where she won a silver, before winning three golds at the 1988 games in Seoul. FloJo experienced seizures throughout her life.

2. David ‘Dai’ Green

David Green is a specialist in the 400 metre hurdles from Great Britain, and is the second fastest man in his country’s history at that discipline. He participated in the 2012 London Olympics for his country and reached the final where he came fourth. He was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 17.

3. Marion Clignet

Born in the US but now living in France, Marion Clignet is a very successful track cyclist who was diagnosed with epilepsy aged 22. The US Cycling Federation deemed Marion’s epilepsy too much of a liability, so she participated in two Olympic Games for France, winning silver at the Sydney games and two silver medals at the Atlanta competition.

Read our interview with Marion here to find out about her successes and the way she has managed epilepsy throughout her career.

4. Davis Tarwater

Hailing from Knoxville TN, Davis Tarwater is a national champion in the swimming pool who specializes in freestyle and butterfly events. He represented the US Olympic team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London where he won a gold medal for the freestyle relay team. Tarwater had seizures as a child, but gradually grew out of them as he got older.

Dive in: Read about swimming with epilepsy

5. Hervé Boussard

French cyclist Hervé Boussard was a self-trained cyclist who was eventually picked up by his national team. He cycled for his country at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona where he won a bronze medal in a team trial event. He lived with epilepsy throughout his life. After retiring he went on to train many other cycling champions for his country.

6. Margaret McEleny

Margaret McEleny is a Paralympic swimmer from Scotland who represented the UK in summer Paralympics events between 1992 and 2004. In her impressive career this pro athlete with epilepsy won three golds, four silvers and seven bronze medals at the Olympics.

7. Beth Dobbin

Scottish sprinter Beth Dobbin is one of the fastest 200m sprinters in her country. She has competed in several international competitions and will be representing Great Britain for the first time at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Beth was diagnosed with epilepsy at 14 and took medication for many years.

Read more: Beth's full epilepsy story

Incredible athletes with epilepsy

Olympic athletes represent the highest standard of dedication, skill and resilience, something which we can all take inspiration from - even if you don't end up becoming a famous athlete with epilepsy!

The Olympics isn't the only sporting event where people with epilepsy have excelled. Read our blogs about famous NFL players with epilepsy. And if you're feeling inspired to participate in sports, why not read our blogs about golf, tennis and general exercise with epilepsy.  

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