PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) – Port St. Joe track and field athlete Madelyn Gortemoller recently qualified for the AAU Junior Olympics in Houston, Texas, but she never expected to come this far in the sport as she was born with severe scoliosis.
“I was born with scoliosis,” Gortemoller said. “And when I was 11-years-old I had to get surgery for my back, and it was very discouraging, because I was very athletic, and I was like I’m never going to be able to do this.”
From a young age, Gortemoller had to wear a back brace day and night, and after she received Spinal Fusion Surgery, she was left with some extra hardware in her body.
“I had 27 screws and then two metal bars,” Gortemoller said. “And I’m not sure what my curve degree was, but it was, it was like a snake, it was pretty intense.”
Gortemoller made an incredible recovery and qualified for state in track her freshman year, and her coach, Keion McNair, says she’s one of the best athletes he’s ever coached.
“She’s one of the athletes you don’t have to ask to do anything,” McNair said. “You got to ask her, okay you have to stop, it’s time to relax, it’s time to back off, but she constantly wants to work, work, work, work, work.”
With everything she’s been through, and all of the adversity she’s faced, Gortemoller doesn’t let it hold her back from her dream of being a collegiate sprinter.
“I give it one hundred percent every day to be my best,” Gortemoller said. “You know, I don’t let the negative affect how I perform or let it be an excuse for anything.”