Swiss wheelchair racer Edith Hunkeler had a memorable 2006 which came to a dramatic climax at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Assen in September, where she won gold medals in the 800 metres, 1,500 metres and 5,000 metres, plus bronze medals in the 200 metres and 400 metres. However her attempt to win a fourth gold medal in the marathon ended prematurely when she crashed and sustained a broken leg.
Hunkeler’s life had changed abruptly at the age of 22, when she was involved in a car accident which left both legs paralysed. She went to Florida to aid her recovery and during her time there in 1996 her personal strength and positive outlook on life returned as she attended English classes and started competing in sport. Since that time she has developed into one of the leading wheelchair racers of her generation.
The year 2006 began dramatically for her with victory in the Boston Marathon in April, an event which she won in 2002 and in which she finished runner-up in 2001 and 2004. From the start, Hunkeler and Diane Roy worked off each other to push a respectable pace and at the finish Hunkeler was crowned victor in 1 hr 43.42 mins.
It set up a golden summer for Hunkeler who delivered a big win each month as she headed towards the World Championships. In May at the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, she won the 200 metres and 800 metres. In June she won the Cedartown 5km race in Georgia, which she followed in July with victory in the famous 10km Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta. She won an 800 metres exhibition event in Gothenburg in August which set her up perfectly for her triumphs in Assen.