The summer Paralympics are set to take place next year in Tokyo and a University of Alabama alumnus hopes to represent team USA for the second time.

Former UA wheelchair tennis player Shelby Baron played on the national team in the 2016 Rio Paralympics and is working toward her second-straight appearance.

“I really just enjoyed that experience, it was amazing to be surrounded by all these disabled athletes,” Baron said.

Baron was born with Spina Bifida but didn’t let it stop her from pursuing athletics.

“That was the only life I knew was walking around with arm crutches, leg braces,” Baron said. “And then I was introduced to a wheelchair for sports so that I would be able to play and participate in P.E. with all my classmates.”

Baron initially played basketball before switching to tennis. A Hawaii native, Baron continued to progress in the sport and eventually landed a scholarship to play for Alabama. She has won multiple national championships with the Crimson Tide.

Tennis has taken Baron around the world.

“I played in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Israel, Turkey, France, Spain,” Baron said.

Baron wants to make it to Tokyo to help Team USA compete for gold medals, but she’s got other motivations as well. Her family is dead set on visiting Japan’s capital.

“They really want me to qualify for Tokyo,” Baron said. “I know they want to go visit Japan as a family. They said, ‘If you make it or not we’re going to go without you I better be there as well.”

Baron hopes that her athletic success has and will continue to inspire others.

“I’m playing in a wheelchair but whatever you want to do you should be able to try it,’ Baron said. “You never know where it will take you.”

Categories: Alabama, Local News, Sports