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A Gold Medalist With No Arms

Feb 15, 2018 | 649 videos
Video by Lorena Alvarado

Beatrice Vio cultivated a passion for fencing when she was five years old. At 11, she contracted severe meningitis. In the hospital, the doctors gave her an unimaginable choice: Keep her limbs and risk death, or amputate all four to ensure survival. She chose life. Now, Vio is a Paralympic champion and the only fencer in the world who competes without arms or legs.


“My strength lies in not thinking about my body and using what I have left to the fullest,” Vio says in Lorena Alvarado’s short documentary, Beatrice. The film tells the Italian fencer’s inspiring story, from diagnosis to grueling rehabilitation to winning a gold medal in Rio in 2016. Although Vio competes with prosthetics, she has come to accept them as part of her body. “When I grab the sword, I feel my fingers gripping the handle,” she says in the film. “I feel I do the movements with my hand, but I actually do them with my elbow. I don’t think about the movements; I feel them. It’s as if the metal blade was my skin, and the grip, my hand.”


“Beatrice’s fearlessness and optimism are supernatural,” Alvarado told The Atlantic. “I’ve never met someone so confident and excited about being alive.”


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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of short films curated by The Atlantic