Sharon Hedrick

Sharon Hedrick (née Rahn, born April 26, 1956) is an American former paralympic swimmer, wheelchair racer and wheelchair basketballer.

Sharon Hedrick
Personal information
Birth nameSharon Rahn
Born (1956-04-26) April 26, 1956 (age 65)
Horsham, Pennsylvania, United States
Alma materHatboro-Horsham High School, University of Illinois
OccupationAthlete; Wheelchair basketball instructor; Dietitian
Spouse(s)Brad Hedrick
Event(s)800 meters Wheelchair, Wheelchair basketball, Swimming
Medal record
Women's athletics
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games (demonstration sport)
1st 1984 Los Angeles 800m Wheelchair
1st 1988 Seoul 800m Wheelchair
Paralympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1976 Toronto 800m Wheelchair
Gold medal – first place 1980 Arnhem 60m Wheelchair
Gold medal – first place 1980 Arnhem 800m Wheelchair
Gold medal – first place 1980 Arnhem 1500m Wheelchair
Gold medal – first place 1988 Seoul Wheelchair Basketball
Silver medal – second place 1976 Toronto 60m Wheelchair
Silver medal – second place 1976 Toronto 4 x 50m Freestyle Swimming Relay
Silver medal – second place 1980 Arnhem 4 x 60m Wheelchair Relay
Silver medal – second place 1992 Barcelona Wheelchair Basketball
Bronze medal – third place 1980 Arnhem Wheelchair Basketball
Wheelchair Basketball World Championship
Gold medal – first place 1990 St Etienne Wheelchair basketball

Hedrick was born in Horsham, Pennsylvania. At the age of nine, she was accidentally shot by a 12-year-old boy playing with a loaded gun. This left her paralyzed from the waist down.[1][2]

Hedrick is the only US athlete to have won gold in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.[2]

Eight-time Boston Marathon winner and Paralympic athlete, Jean Driscoll, cites Hedrick as one of her sporting inspirations.[3]

Athletic careerEdit

Sharon Hedrick did not get involved in wheelchair sports until she was 19,[1] when she was seen training her dog at a local fair and encouraged to join Temple University's athletic team.[2]

She went on to play for the wheelchair basketball team at the University of Illinois, winning six MVP awards.[4]

In 1977 Hedrick was the first female wheelchair competitor in the Boston Marathon; she finished with a time of 3:48:51.[5]

In 1980 Hedrick competed in the Paralympic Games for the first time as a wheelchair basketballer. The team gained the bronze medal. Hedricks did not compete in the 1984 team which failed to bring a medal home, but returned to win gold and then silver in the two subsequent games in Seoul 1988, and Barcelona 1992.

In 1984 Hedrick turned down a place on the Paralympic team [2] to become the first wheelchair athlete in the world to win a gold track medal at an Olympic Games by breaking the world record.[6] She finished with a time of 2:15.73.[2] She successfully defended this title at the following games in South Korea.

1990 saw the first Women's World Wheelchair Basketball Championships in St. Etienne, France. Hedrick claimed gold as part of the winning USA team.[7]


In 1977 Hedrick won the Top Female Athlete Award at the National Wheelchair Games.[8] In 1985 she was presented with the Southland Olympia Award, which recognizes excellence in sport and the embodiment of the 'amateur ideal'.[9] Hedrick was the first wheelchair athlete to be presented this award.[10] Hedrick was awarded the Jack Gerhardt Outstanding Wheelchair Athlete Award in 1988.[11] Also in 1988 Hedrick was the recipient of the Athlete of the Year Award from USOC.[8][11]

In 1989 the Women's Sports Foundation nominated Hedrick in their list of the Top 10 Women Athletes in America.[8]

In 1991 Hedrick's alma mater, Hatboro-Horsham High School, inducted her into their Athletics Hall of Fame[8]

In 1992 Hedrick was inducted into the WASUSA Hall Of Fame.[8][12]

In 1994 Hedrick became the first woman to be inducted into the National Wheelchair Basketball Association Hall of Fame.[8][11]

2012 saw Hedrick becoming a member of Barack Obama's Presidential Delegation to the London Paralympic Games alongside fellow wheelchair athlete Jean Driscoll.[8][10]

Personal lifeEdit

Hedrick is married to Dr. Brad Hedrick, a basketball coach and Director of the Division of Disability Resources and Education Services (DRES) at the University of Illinois. Hedrick was coached by her husband in the USA Women's Wheelchair Basketball team in 1988 when the team won their first gold.[1] They have one adopted son, Nathan.[2]

Hedrick is now retired [8]

Selected worksEdit


  • Introduction to Wheelchair Track & Field – with Brad Hedrick and S. Figoni (1995).
  • A Guide for Wheelchair Sports Training (1988)

Book chaptersEdit

  • Women's wheelchair basketball. In A Century of Women's Basketball: From Frailty to Final Four. pp. 367–378. - with Brad Hedrick (1991)


  1. ^ a b c "In This Basketball Upset, U.S. Captures The Gold – Chicago Tribune". October 24, 1988. Archived from the original on February 4, 2016. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Athlete Won Gold in Olympics, Paralympics | IIP Digital". August 8, 2012. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  3. ^ Driscoll, Jean; Benge, Janet; Benge, Geoff (September 2000). Determined to Win: The Overcoming Spirit of Jean Driscoll. Shaw Books. ISBN 978-0877884187.
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ Steadward, Robert Daniel; Nelson, Ewen Robert; Wheeler, Garry David (1994). VISTA '93--the outlook companion: The proceedings from VISTA '93, an international conference on high performance sport for athletes with disabilities. Robert Hansen Center. p. 470. ISBN 978-0969910206.
  6. ^ "Sharon Hedrick, Olympian | University of Illinois Archives". May 28, 1980. Archived from the original on September 28, 2015. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  7. ^ Thiboutot, Armand Tip; Craven, Philip (1996). The 50th Anniversary of Wheelchair Basketball: A History. Waxmann Verlag. p. 34.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Sharon Hedrick". LinkedIn. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  9. ^ "DRES Exhibit Part 4: Celebrating Achievements | University of Illinois Archives". Archived from the original on August 24, 2013. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  10. ^ a b "2012 London Paralympic Games :: The College of Applied Health Sciences :: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign". August 29, 2012. Archived from the original on February 5, 2014. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  11. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 9, 2012. Retrieved April 16, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Wheelchair & Ambulatory Sports USA – Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on November 27, 2013. Retrieved September 6, 2013.

External linksEdit