Virginia Paralympian battles coronavirus while living abroad

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — With the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics, athletes are facing new and different challenges.

A two-time Paralympic athlete with cerebral palsy, Adam Ballou is used to tough situations. Still, he was sidelined when diagnosed with the coronavirus, an opponent unlike any other.

Ballou was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 6-months-old. He is a Virginia Beach native, and currently teaches English and plays club soccer in Spain.

He said the virus started with a fever.

“I started to cough, and then my chest started to hurt like there was something in my lungs, like there was a liquid,” says Ballou. “I would breathe in and I would wheeze.”

The intensity of the virus surprised him.

“I was laying down, hard to breathe. Sitting up, hard to breathe. Standing up, hard to breathe. I was like, ‘What can I do?'” he says.

Ballou says he’s feeling better, just dealing with a little bit of soreness in his lungs.

“I’m 27. I’m healthy. I’m an athlete,” Ballou says. “I shouldn’t have any problems kicking this thing, but you never know, so I was super nervous.”

Ballou played on Team USA’s seven-per-side soccer team at both the London and Rio Paralympic Games.

“That mental toughness and just being physically fit, as an athlete, helped me prepare for this,” Ballou says.

Seven-per-side soccer was cut from the Tokyo Paralympic games, so Ballou is focused on building up his strength again, and getting back on the soccer field in Spain.


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