Monica Bascio (age 48, Colorado Springs, CO) is a retired Paralympic cyclist, cross-country skier, and biathlete. A four-time Paralympian, Bascio had the honor to carry the Olympic Torch for the 2002 Olympic Games, and won two silver medals in handcycling at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. She was named Paralympic Sportswoman of the Year in 2013 by the U.S. Olympic Committee, and competed in three winter Paralympic Games, finishing 5th in the 10k at the 2006 Games in Torino, and (at the age of 44) was 7th in the 12k at the Sochi 2014 Games. Bascio retired following the Sochi games, and was diagnosed with colon cancer later that year. She went through surgery and chemotherapy treatment, and has been cancer free since April of 2015. In 2016, she was elected to the IPC Athlete's Council, and currently works to be a voice and an advocate for Paralympic athletes all over the world. In 2018, Monica was appointed to the IOC Athlete's Entourage Commission, and was also invited to serve on the Adaptive Spirt Board of Directors. "Adaptive Spirit was a huge part of my success during my long career as a Paralympic athlete, and I am super excited to support this amazing organization in any way that I can."
Background and Injury
The Ridgewood, NJ native was skiing near Lake Tahoe, CA in 1992, when she fell and suffered a spinal cord injury, which left her paralyzed from the waste down. Following her rehabilitation, Bascio readjusted her lifestyle to that of a wheelchair athlete, and – after earning a degree in Occupational Therapy from San Jose State University – began competing in handcycling competitions. In 2002, she moved to Colorado, where she added cross-country skiing and biathlon to her training regiment.
Bascio's career as a Paralympic athlete has spanned 16 years to date. In cycling, she has been world champion five times and earned two silver medals at the London Paralympic Games. In skiing, she owns five world cup medals, and was second overall in the 2006 IPC World Cup of Nordic Skiing. She has competed at four Paralympic Games: Torino 2006, Vancouver 2010, London 2012, and Sochi 2014. She's won the Sadler's Alaska Challenge - “toughest handcycle race in the world” - five times, and was a torchbearer for the Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games in 2002.
Monica was named Paralympic Sportswoman of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee in 2013, after she announced her retirement from cycling following her most successful season, in which she was world champion in the time trial, the road race, as well as the overall winner in the UCI Para-cycling World Cup.
She returned to competition six months later at the Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia, where she finished 7th in the women's 12km cross country ski event (her best ski result at the Paralympic Games since Torino 2006, where she was 5th in the same event.)
Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
When she returned home to Colorado following the Sochi Games, Bascio sought medical attention, because something “didn't seem right.” In August of 2014, she was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer, and underwent surgery on September 17, the day after her birthday. She endured six months of chemotherapy treatments between October 2014, and March, 2015, and was given a clean bill of health in April.
Bascio was elected to the IPC Athlete's council after a successful campaign during the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Since the election Bascio has connected with athletes, teams, and sports from across the Paralympic community to create a more athlete-centered movement and advance the profile of the Paralympic Games in the public domain. She was appointed to the IOC Athlete's Entourage Commission in 2018, which Monica considers "a great honor" and was also asked to serve as part of the Adaptive Spirit Board of Directors, an organization for which Monica has a strong connection. "Adaptive Spirit was a huge part of my success during my long career as a Paralympic athlete, and I am super excited to begin working with this amazing organization."
Monica married Ian Lawless in 2000. Lawless, has been the Director of Paralympic Cycling at the U.S. Olympic Committee since 2013 and became involved in the Paralympic movement in 1998 after he attended the national handcycling championships (where Bascio was competing), and subsequently worked as a coach, event organizer, and administrator for various adaptive and Paralympic sport organizations before joining the USOC. Bascio and Lawless have a son, Henry (born 2007), and live in Colorado Springs with their "very active" dog, Toby.