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Somerville teen pushes forward as amputee athlete

Marita Coombs and her daughter Lucy, who swims competitively without her prosthetic left leg.
Marita Coombs and her daughter Lucy, who swims competitively without her prosthetic left leg.

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Four years ago, competing in her first San Diego Triathlon Challenge, Lucy Coombs received an unforgettable message from her mentor, Paralympics medalist Rudy Garcia-Tolson.

“The only disability is a negative attitude,” he told her.

Coombs, a 15-year-old Somerville resident entering her sophomore year at Prospect Charter Hill Academy in Cambridge, has ingrained Garcia-Tolson’s motto into her everyday approach.

Despite undergoing an above-the-knee amputation of her left leg, at age 3 as a result of Tibial Hemimelia—a partial or total absence of the tibia—she has successfuly completed the 1.2-mile open water race four times at the Triathlon Challenge, which is hosted by the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

At the end of July, Coombs will attend the Amputee Coalition’s Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp in Clarksville, Ohio, for the fourth straight year

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