An athlete her entire life, Noelle Lambert’s ambitions nearly ended in 2016 when she lost her left leg in a moped crash.
Instead, the crash set in motion a new beginning for the Londonderry woman, capped by a record-setting performance at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai.
The week leading into the games was a nightmare in the Lambert household, but not for the athlete herself.
“My mom wasn’t helping whatsoever, because she was calling and saying she was freaking out, like, having dreams and nightmares about it,” Lambert said. “I was, like, ‘OK, that’s not helping.’”
Lambert finished the women’s 100-meter sprint in 16.31 seconds, good for a fourth-place finish and an American record.
“It was really humbling because I didn’t actually know that was a thing before I competed,” she said. “I didn’t even have that in my head. Thank God I didn’t have that in my head because I would have been freaking out even more.”
Lambert never dreamed of competing at the World Para Athletics Championships. She was a decorated lacrosse player, and her only training for Dubai came over the past five months.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” she said. “I had never set up in blocks before. I was never on the track team. I always played soccer, basketball and lacrosse.”
She said being around other athletes with disabilities has inspired her.
“It really just puts things into perspective,” she said. “I love being around everybody who are just like me. It’s great because everyone understands each other.”
Lambert’s next goal is competing in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. But for now, she said she’s eager to return home this weekend.