IRON MOUNTAIN -- Kingsford native Kelly Allen is a vivacious 21-year-old with a passion and skill for kayaking. Allen was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, meaning she is missing her left femur, patella, and fibula, along with a fully developed hip socket. As a result, she gets around wearing a prosthesis.
On Monday, Allen was in Iron Mountain with her mother and US Paralympics coach Ben Kvanli to meet up with Wright and Filippis, the company who makes her prosthesis. This was an important meeting so that they can make adjustments to her racing leg to then better fit her racing kayak. That way, when Allen is racing it makes it seem like her and the kayak are one.
"If you put me in a boat, I'm just so comfortable and this is my thing," said Allen. "This is what I do. I would actually give you a run for your money, which is something that as a disabled person, I love that. I love that I can be competitive in the able bodied world with this sport."
Allen has several accomplishments to her name, including competing in the Extremity Games, being the current 200 meter Paracanoe Sprint National Champion, and being a young ambassador for the United States in the 2010 Paralympics.
"I mean she is super young, and so the sky is the limit," said Kvanli. " I mean, we're really reinventing the sport right now because of all these adaptations that Wright and Filippis are creating. The honest truth is we don't know what her potential is, we just know that every race she goes to, she doesn't just win, she sets a new standard for herself and the competition."
This past Friday, Allen competed in the 200 meter sprint race in Lake Placid, NY. There, she took second place to the current World Champion Christine Gaurdner, a four-time World Champion. Because of this second place finish, Allen will be representing the United States in Germany at the World Cup at the end of August.
Allen currently lives in San Marcos, TX where she also works with wounded veterans from the Army Hospital in San Antonio. Alongside her work with the veterans, she is also training for the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil. If you'd like to see more on Allen, visit her website: www.oneandonehalf.com.