IMPOSSIBLE STORIES

Starting your impossible isn’t easy, but these athletes prove that when we are free to move, anything is possible.

Alice Tai - Para Swimming

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BORN

January 31, 1999

HOMETOWN

Poole, United Kingdom

SPORT

Para Swimming

PARALYMPIC GAMES

2016 (1 x Gold, 1 x Bronze)

ACHIEVING IMPOSSIBLE

Alice Tai was born in 1999 and grew up in New Milton. She was born with bilateral talipes (club foot) and before the age of 12 she had undergone 14 corrective operations to alleviate her condition, sometimes requiring a wheelchair for long periods of time during recovery.

She began swimming at the age of eight but it was not until the winter of 2010 that her family realised that she could be classified as a disability swimmer. In 2011, she was officially classified as a S10 swimmer allowing her to compete in international competitions. In 2012 Tai showed her potential at the British International Disability Swimming Championships in Sheffield, where she won silver in the Youth final of the MC (Multi-Classification) 400m freestyle, beaten to gold by Amy Marren.

She has gone on to represent Great Britain at European, Commonwealth, World and Paralympic Championships, winning gold medals at all levels. At the 2016 Paralympics, Tai and the team won a gold medal in the 4 x 100 metre medley relay, and got a bronze medal in the 100m backstroke S10. Later that year, Tai was awarded an MBE for her services to swimming.

In March 2017, Tai was awarded the Youth Sport Trust Young Sports Person of the Year at the British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards (BEDSAs) and in November 2019, Tai was named The Sunday Times’ Disability Sportswoman of the Year.

At the 2019 London Para-swimming World Championships, Tai bagged seven gold medals across six disciplines, including a world record in the 100 metres backstroke S8. She also won the overall WPS (World Para Swimming) World Series.

She has been nominated for the prestigious Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award in 2020. After reflecting on such a successful year last year, Tai looks forward to growing the Paralympic movement and inspiring others later this summer in Tokyo – as well as competing for a potential eight gold medals.

Shauna Coxsey - Sport Climbing

Shauna Coxsey with mountainous background
BORN

January 27, 1993

HOMETOWN

Runcorn, Cheshire

SPORT

Sport Climbing

OLYMPIC GAMES

N/A

ACHIEVING IMPOSSIBLE

Shauna Coxsey is Britain’s best competition climber and the UK’s first ever overall bouldering World Cup champion.

Multiple winner of the British Bouldering Championships, Runcorn-born Shauna didn’t come from a climbing family. Instead, at the tender age of four, she was inspired to climb having watched a film featuring French free climber Catherine Destivelle.

Three years later she entered her first regional competition and qualified for the national final and won her first national championship when she was nine. Shauna began competing internationally at 13 and decided to go professional during a gap year after A-levels.

Shauna won her first British Championship in 2011 at 17 in both bouldering and lead climbing and followed that success with three more World Cup golds for bouldering. In 2016 she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

She has competed in nine bouldering World Cup series, winning 11 gold, 12 silver and 9 bronze medals and in 2016 won the overall World Cup season for the first time and repeated the achievement in 2017.

In 2018, Shauna announced her intention to secure a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games where Climbing was making its debut. In 2019, she secured her place at the Games at the first time of asking by coming third in IFSC Combined Climbing World Championships. During the competition she broke her own Speed Climbing UK record by recording a time of 9.141 seconds over a 15 metre speed route; an achievement made all the more remarkable considering she only took up the discipline a year before.

A specialist in bouldering – low level, unsupported climbing – Shauna is training hard for the Tokyo Olympics where she will not only boulder but also lead climb where competitors climb as high as they can in a set time and speed climb where climbers scale 15m as fast as they can.

Laura Kenny - Cyclist

Laura Kenny exercising in park
BORN

May 24, 1992

HOMETOWN

Cheshunt, United Kingdom

SPORT

Cycling

OLYMPIC GAMES

2016 (2 x Gold), 2012 (2 x Gold)

ACHIEVING IMPOSSIBLE

Laura Kenny is Great Britain’s most successful female athlete of all time with four golds at the Olympics in London and Rio.

Laura won her first gold medals in London in the team pursuit and multi-discipline omnium event. She then followed this up by successfully defending both titles in 2016 at Rio.

The double Olympic champion was born a month prematurely in Harlow, Essex, with a collapsed lung and later diagnosed with asthma. Advised to try sport to help with her breathing, Kenny first participated in trampolining before being forced to stop due to an undiagnosed condition that caused her to sporadically pass out.

Growing up in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, Laura and older sister Emma took up cycling when their mother Glenda decided to lose weight.

Laura rose to prominence with an omnium gold medal at the UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships in 2010 which led to her selection to the UEC European Track Championships and her first elite gold medal in the team pursuit, aged only 18.

An amazing 2011 season saw Laura win seven World, World Cup and European titles at junior and elite levels including team pursuit gold at her debut UCI Track Cycling World Championships and at the UEC European Track Championships, where Kenny also took the omnium title.

At London 2012, Laura, Joanna Rowsell Shand and Dani King broke the world record each time they rode on their way to the team pursuit gold and two days later, Kenny won the omnium by the closest possible margin of one point with a storming time trial to get the gold.

After another successful three years competing, 2016 saw Laura win the omnium and scratch race at the UCI Track World Championships before the main focus of the year – the Rio Olympics where GB won the women’s team pursuit and Kenny defended her omnium title.

After an extended post-Rio break where Laura gave birth to her first child, she returned to cycling, winning the National Track Championship omnium title in 2018.

Kenny has become Toyota’s lead ambassador for ‘I Am Team GB – The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day’. The national campaign is a central part of our commitment to make movement better for everyone, using the power of the Olympics to make Britain more active.

Jonnie Peacock - Sprinter

Jonnie Peacock dtands in car park looking into camera
BORN

May 28, 1993

HOMETOWN

Cambridge, United Kingdom

SPORT

Para athletics T44 100m

PARALYMPIC GAMES

2016 (Gold), 2012 (Gold)

ACHIEVING IMPOSSIBLE

Jonnie Peacock is the Double Paralympic, World & European T44 100m Champion winning his first Paralympic title at the London 2012 Games. He then successfully defended his title at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

In Rio in 2016, Jonnie re-set the record books, running a time of 10.81 seconds in the T44 100m final, setting a Paralympic record in the process.

Jonnie was only five years old when he contracted Meningitis, which killed the tissue in his right leg. This resulted in an amputation just below the knee. Whilst having his prosthetic leg fitted in hospital, Jonnie was encouraged to take part in a Paralympic sports talent day.

After years of training and learning his trade at regional events, it was in May 2012 that Jonnie competed in his first international race at the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester. A month later, he broke the World Record and in September 2012 he won Gold in London.

In 2013, Jonnie was awarded with an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list for services to athletics.

After battling through injury in 2015, Jonnie returned to success in 2016. Starting with the T44 100m win at the IPC Athletics European Championships in Grossetto, Jonnie then recorded a lifetime best (10.68) and a British Record at the Loughborough EAP meeting before becoming double Paralympic Champion in September 2016.

Jonnie continued his unbelievable success into 2017 by winning Gold in the World-Para Athletics Championships and topped the year by becoming the first disabled person to appear on Strictly Come Dancing.

Jonnie has become our lead ambassador for ‘Parasport Powered by Toyota’. The Parasport platform is a central part of our commitment to create a more inclusive society and a demonstration of our ambition to make movement better for everyone.

Andrea Eskau - Para Cross-Country Skiing

Andrea Eskau holds her Nordic skiing poles and looks into the camera in a bull's-eye red racing suit.
BORN

March 21, 1971

HOMETOWN

Apolda, Germany

SPORT

Cycling, Para Cross-Country Skiing

PARALYMPIC GAMES

2008, 2012, 2016
PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES
2010, 2014

ACHIEVING IMPOSSIBLE

Playing Para sports may have been born from necessity for Andrea, but before long the German powerhouse became one of the dominating forces on the Paralympic scene in summer and winter sports. She tried out wheelchair basketball first and eventually expanded her skills to Para cross-country skiing, Para biathlon, wheelchair racing and handcycle racing.

To date, Andrea has won 37 World Championship medals and is a 27-time World Champion in cycling, Para biathlon and Para cross-country skiing.

"The sacrifice and effort which goes into [winning a gold Paralympic medal] is truly incredible, and we’re so proud to be a small part of Andrea’s team."
– Toyota TMG engineer

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I’ve achieved many, many medals, but my biggest achievement as an athlete is to be fair and competitive. That’s what I believe is very, very important.

Inspired by Andrea’s unrelenting determination to challenge what’s possible, Toyota approached her in 2012 to initiate a collaboration. Focused on comfort and speed, we have worked closely with Andrea to create custom-made lightweight carbon fibre solutions for her bike and sledge that would give the star athlete an even greater competitive edge at the Paralympic Games.

Brad Snyder - Para Swimming

Although he lost his sight in battle, Brad Snyder directs his eyes up and away as if looking toward a podium with his goggles on his forehead.
BORN

February 29, 1984

HOMETOWN

Reno, Nevada, USA

SPORT

Para Swimming

PARALYMPIC GAMES

2012, 2016

ACHIEVING IMPOSSIBLE

The water is where Brad Snyder feels most free. He learned to swim in Florida when he was still a toddler and began competing when he was 11 years old. Later, Brad became the captain of his swim team at the United States Naval Academy.

“I think living life with a visual impairment, living life blind, living life dark is what seemed impossible to us in the weeks after I sustained the injury… what I found in the Paralympics is that even though I can’t see, there’s still a whole world of things I’m still capable of.”

When an injured Brad returned home from Afghanistan, he had to learn to find his way through the dark. His family stayed by his side, helping the once-resilient soldier complete simple tasks such as eating, dressing and finding the bathroom.

I want for [my story] to go out into the atmosphere and inspire the next generation of athletes to dream about being on that Paralympic podium.

Just months into recovery, Brad decided to return to the waters that he found so familiar. One year to the day after his losing his eyesight while on duty, he proudly stood on the Paralympic podium to take home the gold for Team USA. Among swimmers with complete visual impairment, Brad is the current world-record holder for the 100-meter freestyle.

Today, Brad has a new ambition: to adopt a second sport and compete in the Paratriathlon in Tokyo 2020.

Toyota's Commitment

Toyota is the Worldwide Mobility Partner of the Olympic and Paralympic Games because we seek to push people farther—past their finish line, past their impossible.

Working with the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees to help athletes reach their dreams is just one part of our wholehearted commitment to unleashing human potential through the power of movement.

Akio Toyoda with his arms open as he gives a passionate speech.
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Under this Olympic and Paralympic flag, let us reaffirm the power of sport to bring people together.
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AKIO TOYODA
President, Toyota Motor Corporation
Global Team Toyota
Explore all Global Team Toyota Athletes
We are proud to be the first Worldwide Official Mobility Partner of the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee, and a founding member of the Olympic Channel. Check out our Is It Possible? series to see just what's possible in your favourite sports.
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