Minda Dentler: What I learned when I conquered the world's toughest triathlon
A record-setting triathlete, Minda Dentler is a polio survivor committed to inspiring people to move beyond their fear of failure and achieve their goals. Full bio
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like a never-ending barren hill.
up to a town called Hawi
measuring almost 98 degrees.
of the bike portion
events in the world.
in our family living room.
orange and brown sofa,
pushed themselves to their limit
from the sidelines,
or handing out water at local races.
to be able to compete, but I couldn't.
hospital in high school.
all by myself
for a job in management consulting,
to the sport of hand-cycling,
an Ironman World Champion,
race in the sport,
it's like the Super Bowl of triathlon.
for a wheelchair athlete like me,
in the Pacific Ocean,
in lava fields --
and it's pretty desolate --
of 140.6 miles using just your arms
had ever completed the race
seemingly impossible cutoff times.
of that 15-mile climb,
to make that swim in my time limit
and I handed it over to a race official.
and my husband Shawn
to drive me back to town.
I began to cry.
the Ironman World Championship
my family and people at work
I had assumed or planned?
to Shannon about the Kona "disaster,"
be realized when you're ready to fail."
in order to move forward,
that I had faced insurmountable odds.
I contracted polio,
from the hips down.
left me at an orphanage.
by an American family,
I underwent a series of surgeries
with leg braces and crutches.
with my disability.
about wearing a back brace and leg braces,
under my pants.
heavy braces on my legs
of the very few individuals in the US
by polio today.
in developing countries
medical care, education,
like I have had in America.
that, had I not been adopted,
wouldn't be in front of you today.
friends and competitors,
went off promptly at 7am.
staying in between bodies,
every so often
and he carried me out of the water.
when Shawn had told me I had managed
to complete the 112-mile bike course.
in seven- to 10-mile segments in my mind
as we benefited from a little tail wind.
I was in serious time jeopardy
and less than 90 minutes,
a few sizable hill climbs.
that time cutoff again.
my internal voice aside that said,
"Minda, you better focus.
and your effort."
as though my life depended on it.
competitors to make the bike cutoff."
for 10-and-a-half hours.
went pretty quickly,
to the bottom of Palani hill,
that looked like Mt. Everest
were ready at their stations
just so I wouldn't tip backwards.
the top of that hill,
15-mile stretch onto the Queen K Highway,
on one push at a time.
onto Ali'i Drive.
and I was overcome with emotion.
was 14 hours and 39 minutes.
commitment to myself,
that completing the Ironman
but preventable diseases,
afflicted by vaccine-preventable diseases.
to eliminating one of those diseases
more than 350,000 children a year
40 cases an hour.
have reported a total of only 12 cases.
have been immunized against polio,
paralyzed like me,
in the poorest communities of the world.
and dangerous places,
two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Maya.
or kick a ball across the grass.
that I see her do at her age
do at that age.
in the room to prepare the shot,
to document the moment.
welling up with tears.
would be very different from mine.
with the crippling disability of polio,
and I chose to get her immunized.
with one question:
ABOUT THE SPEAKERMinda Dentler - Athlete, activist
A record-setting triathlete, Minda Dentler is a polio survivor committed to inspiring people to move beyond their fear of failure and achieve their goals.
Why you should listen
Minda Dentler's life is one of inspiration, courage and determination. As an infant in India, she contracted polio, resulting in the paralysis of her legs, and was left at an orphanage. When she was three, she was adopted by an American family which enabled her to receive the medical care necessary to be able to walk with leg braces and crutches.
Undeterred by her disability, Dentler became an independent woman with the intention and drive to face and overcome the many obstacles she has encountered throughout her life. As an adult, she discovered athletics and threw herself into the sport of triathlon. In 2013, she became the first female wheelchair athlete to complete the Ironman World Championship, in Kona, Hawaii.
Dentler is an athlete, speaker, advocate and mother. She has been featured on CNN, Forbes and NBC. She has written for Huffington Post and TIME, advocating for the eradication of polio. She was a 2017 Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow. She works for a large global insurer and, with her husband, is raising a young daughter. She's committed to inspiring people to move beyond their fear of failure and achieve their goals.
Minda Dentler | Speaker | TED.com