NewsLocal NewsYour Voice


Kansas City-area Para athlete competing for spot on Team USA

'I feel more alive now than I ever felt before'
Watts gears up to train, riding a 90 minute route
Posted at 6:21 PM, Jun 02, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rachel Watts was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2018 but refuses to let the limitations of her condition define her as she gears up for the chance to compete in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games this September.

"My ability to walk, my ability to use my right hand, my visual processing and just my cognitive abilities were all really affected," Watts said.

Rachel Watts, Para athlete

Despite the setbacks, Watts said the cycling leg of a triathlon is where she feels a sense of freedom and exhilaration.

"You don’t get to tell me what my life’s gonna be like and what my future’s gonna be like, so I'm going to do the best I can to create something different," she said.

VOICE FOR EVERYONE | Share your voice with KSHB 41’s Caroline Hogan

With less than a month to qualify for the Paralympics, Watts sees her once-distant dream as a tangible goal.

"As I have seen where I'm at with my race times and competition, I think my long shot has just moved to it’s a shot," Watts said.

Watts travels to Italy the first week of June for a race before heading to France, Wales and ending the month in Canada.

She's focused on taking in every moment of every race.

"I could lose my abilities any day, so I want to live every day to the fullest," Watts said.

For Watts, every pedal stroke brings her closer to her dreams, demonstrating that true freedom lies in the courage and endurance to keep moving forward.

"I feel more alive now than I ever felt before, like MS, oddly enough, was the gift I never knew I wanted, wrapped in the ugliest wrapping paper I’ve ever seen," she said.

Follow Watts on Instagram to join her journey to Paris.