Every four years, international champions gather to participate in the ultimate test of athleticism and precision known to mankind—the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Like the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games showcase the tenacity and dedication of the world’s elite Paralympic athletes. Even though these athletes endure physical impairments, they push forward to become great in their sports despite the obstacles they face.
Sonja Tobiassen is no exception. She will be competing in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio on September 10 and 13 representing Norway in air rifle shooting.
Working as a nurse in Norway, Sonja noticed her muscles beginning to weaken in her mid-20s. At the young age of 25, she was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, an incurable disease that interferes with the production of proteins needed to form healthy muscle. Now, 20 years later, Sonja is in a wheelchair and living every day with love and gratitude.
“The little things really mean something to me,” Sonja said. “Things like friends and family and stopping to enjoy the flowers. I live a good life, an independent life, with my daughter who is 17. I’m grateful every day for a house and a car and a sport that I love.”
While in a rehabilitation center in 2010, Sonja participated in an air rifle shooting activity. One man in the room was floored by her natural aim and consistency. Curious to see if Sonja was just having a lucky day, he took her to a shooting simulator where she again proved her natural talent. Soon enough, the Norges Skytterforbund (Norwegian Shooting Association) learned of her gift and, to Sonja’s surprise, a couple years later she found herself competing in London’s 2012 Paralympics.
To prepare for her second Paralympic Games, Sonja is putting a great deal of focus into achieving her goals. Essential to her training and everyday life is being able to take special care of her health.