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Perquimans County native has her eye on Tokyo for the Paralympics

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Posted at 12:41 PM, Jul 02, 2021

PERQUIMANS Co., N.C. - Perquimans County native Wendy Gardner has got her eye on Tokyo.

"My hand doesn't work. I had a wrist fusion; my hand and my fingers don't bend," she said.

Gardner has to bite down with her teeth to pull the trigger and launch an arrow when she practices archery. She's adapted after once being able-bodied.

"I had a stroke after the birth of my first child 20 years ago, and I was paralyzed on the left side of my body," she said.

After two decades of thinking sports wasn't an option for her, she went to the Vegas Shoot, an archery tournament, where she saw an adapted athlete shooting archery with his feet.

"I said if he could do it, so can I," Gardner said.

Not letting her disabilities sideline her, her husband outfitted her with adaptive materials to shoot.

"My first big competition was in Richmond last year called the Target Nationals," she said.

Gardner won but kept her eye on the bullseye, participating in the Paralympic trials for archery this past June.

"I never thought I would win. I thought, 'This is fun. I'm just having a good time,'" she said.

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This week, Gardner left for the Czech Republic to compete one last time. If she wins, she'll be heading to the Paralympics in Tokyo in late August.

"It's crazy. I never thought I would do this," she said. "I would love to represent the United States and show you just gotta be positive and you can do anything you set your mind to."