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Paralympic Medalist Angela Madsen Dies On Solo Rowing Trip Across Pacific Ocean

By Todd Kortemeier | June 23, 2020, 4 p.m. (ET)

Angela Madsen competes at the IPC Athletics World Championships on Oct. 23, 2015 in Doha, Qatar. 


Approximately halfway in her ambitious journey to row solo from Los Angeles to Honolulu, Paralympic medalist Angela Madsen has died, her wife Debra confirmed Tuesday in a Facebook post.

Madsen had planned to make repairs to her boat Row of Life, the post said, but as of Sunday was no longer responding to text messages. The United States Coast Guard enlisted a cargo ship in the area to search for Row of Life, which discovered Madsen in the water. She was approximately 1,300 miles and 60 days into her journey. She had celebrated her 60th birthday at sea on May 10.

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Angela Madsen competes in the women's javelin throw F56 at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016 on Sept. 10, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.


Madsen was a world-class rower, having twice crossed the Atlantic Ocean. She also competed at the Paralympic Beijing Games 2008 in rowing and at the 2012 London Games in shot put, earning a bronze medal. She competed again in shot put and also in javelin in Rio in 2016. Madsen was making her second attempt at a solo crossing of the Pacific, having rowed successfully from California to Hawaii with a partner in 2014.

“Angela brought unrivaled passion, joy and determination to the world, and we were the lucky ones to have her come into our lives as a member of the Paralympic family,” said Cathy Sellers, retired director of U.S. Paralympics Track & Field. “She was tireless in all that she did, but I always appreciated her advocacy for embracing all types of diversity in sport. She was committed to teaching and educating the next generation of Paralympic athletes and gave selflessly to mentor, coach and teach others.”


Angela Madsen helps fellow athlete Stephanie Marquez at the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials - Track and Field in July 2016 in Charlotte, N.C.


A Marine Corps veteran, Madsen became a paraplegic in 1993 during surgery on her back for a basketball injury. She lost her job and endured a period of homelessness in the 1990s. She discovered rowing in 1998 through an adaptive sports program, and by 2007 had completed her first trip across the Atlantic. She ran a non-profit adaptive rowing program in her hometown of Long Beach and was the founder of the California Adoptive Rowing Program.

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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