Melissa Stockwell joined the U.S. Army after the September 11, 2001 attacks and later lost her left leg during combat in Iraq. After returning from the battlefield Stockwell assisted fellow war veterans and would later become a board member of the Wounded Warrior Project.
But Stockwell’s athletic tendencies tugged at her. Long after recovering from her war injury and building a new lifestyle around it, the former Army lieutenant took up biking, swimming and running to set her sights on becoming a competitive triathlete.
“I was always athletic growing up, after losing my leg I wanted to get back into it somehow,” Stockwell told me during our last interview, just before Memorial Day 2021. She added that, shortly after learning to master competitive level swimming she focused on transitioning her herself into a triathlete.
Then she set her sights on the next big thing.
“Originally, I set a goal to reach the 2008 Paralympic Games.” Stockwell described that first big goal of competing for her country on the world stage as a daily motivator, and an inspiration in everything she did.
Ever since, Stockwell has maintained a rigorous daily schedule of running and biking with a prosthetic leg, and ramping up her swimming to personal best times.
Medals and more goals
Stockwell won gold medals in three ITU World Championships, also known as the World Triathlon Series, first in Budapest 2010, then in Beijing 2011, and in 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. She also medaled at London 2013 and Chicago 2015. Next came a Paralympic Gold medal at the Rio Games in 2016.
But winning world titles, Stockwell says, doesn’t make her superhuman.
The very down-to-earth 41-year-old athlete says that daily workouts and eating right are still critical. That said, Stockwell admits can’t resist a good dessert—especially Oreos—even during Olympic training season.
In this short episode of Andy Frye’s Sports Podcast, Stockwell talks about the mindset and intense workouts needed to reach the world stage, as well as the nuts and bolts of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, from travel to sponsorships.
Andy Frye speaks with Melissa Stockwell, in Episode 15. You can read the interview on Forbes here.
- 1:35 Biking and swimming for 90 minutes is all in a day's work
- 2:00 Stockwell talks parenting with Nabisco on "Stand Together, Win Together"
- 3:10 What does a world class triathlete eat? (She loves Oreos.)
- 6:10 Stockwell talks about her intense workouts
- 8:00 Mentality, pushing to extremes is everything
- 9:15 Stockwell talks COVID, postponed Tokyo Games