Paralympic great Angela Madsen has died tragically trying to secure a world record by rowing all the way across the Pacific Ocean.
Paralympic great Angela Madsen has died tragically trying to secure a world record by rowing all the way across the Pacific Ocean.

Paralympian dies attempting world record

Paralympic medallist Angela Madsen has died aged 60 during a solo rowing expedition from California to Hawaii.

Madsen won a bronze medal in shot put at the 2012 London Paralympics and also competed in rowing at the 2008 Beijing Games and in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

She was trying to become the first paraplegic in the world - and oldest woman - to row across the Pacific Ocean but Madsen's wife Debra confirmed the tragic news she wasn't able to complete her voyage.

"With extreme sadness I must announce that Angela Madsen will not complete her solo row to Hawaii," Debra wrote on Facebook.

"I received her last text Saturday night. Sunday she was not responding to my text messages. When I checked the main message inbox she had not returned any messages. When I looked at the tracking it did not appear that she was rowing the boat, but rather that is was drifting.

"Knowing she was planning to enter the water to fix her hardware to deploy the para-anchor from the bow, I was concerned she did not text when she got back on the boat. She was about as far from any land as she could get and the communication can be a challenge, I was hopeful but still had a feeling of heaviness in my chest."

Debra explained how the US Coastguard was deployed, and confirmed the worst.

Madsen absolutely loved being out on the water.
Madsen absolutely loved being out on the water.

"Angela was living her dream. She loved being on the water as you could see from the photos she sent," Debra wrote. "I am sad but OK. I never planned a life without her so be patient with me while I figure all of this out.

"Thank you for all your support. Angela was truly touched by your support."

Soraya Simi was making a documentary about Madsen's world record attempt and was crushed by her death.

"This is the single heaviest moment of my life," Simi said in a statement to the Southern California News Group. "I am so sorry and so sad to write this. I know so many of you were cheering her on and wanted her to succeed."

Madsen joined the Marines after school but complications during surgery for a back injury saw her become a paraplegic. She lost her job and became homeless in the 1990s but bounced back as she discovered rowing, winning three world championship gold medals.

Madsen also excelled at shot put and crossed both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans on her own.

Originally published as Paralympian dies attempting world record