The athletes aren't the only ones shining during the London Games.

The Olympics and Paralymics also feature a celebration called Cultural Olympiad, which promotes artistic displays across the country.

This week Sue Austin, who has used a wheelchair since 1996, is showing off the world's first self-propelled underwater wheelchair. After gaining an interest in scuba diving in 2005, Austin worked with academics and dive experts to create the underwater wheelchair, which is powered by two dive propulsion vehicles and steered with a bespoke fin and foot-operated acrylic strip.

"When we started talking to people about it, engineers were saying it wouldn't work, the wheelchair would go into a spin, it was not designed to go through water," Austin told the BBC. "But I was sure it would."

Austin has starred in a number of underwater performances called "Creating the Spectacle!" in which she moves through choreographed acrobatic underwater events.

Check out one of her shows:

"We've created something new and exciting and it's really getting people talking," Austin told the Daily Mail. "As a result, they're realising that viewing the world from a different perspective inspires them to be free to explore new experiences."

Austin is performing this weekend at the Osprey Leisure Centre in Weymouth, England.

(H/T to Geekologie)

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In 2000, Alana Jane Nichols was a normal 17-year-old who liked to hang out with her friends. She was athletically gifted and spent a lot of time playing organized sports. She enjoyed impromptu snowboarding sessions and never shied away from new challenges. Nichols was often the only girl in the group but never had any trouble keeping up. It was who she was. It was what she did.

On Nov. 19, 2000, Nichols was snowboarding with friends in the back country of New Mexico, near her home in Farmington. They had gone all day trekking up mountain sides, and forging their way down, through fresh, uncharted snow. It was late in the day, and they had yet to take any real break to rest and refuel.

On their last run of the day, around 3:30 in the afternoon, Nichols had yet to attempt what she set out to do, a back flip on her snowboard. She had never tried one before, but knew she could do it. Even if she didn't land it, that was part of the process. She would get back up, and try it again.

The guys in front of her charged down the hill and successfully landed some sort of trick before watching Nichols attempt her maiden back flip. Nichols set off down the hill and hit the makeshift jump. While in mid-air, she over-rotated, causing her to land on her back. "I felt prepared, but looking back on it, it wasn't the best decision." Nichols said. "We were 17, we just didn't really think about it."

What Nichols didn't think about was what was underneath the snow. As it turns out, she landed on a bed of rocks. Lying there in the snow, Nichols immediately knew something was wrong. She couldn't feel her legs, and told her friends not to move her. While some of them quickly began the trek out of the woods to find help -- there was no cell phone service -- the rest were praying for her on every corner of her body, which brought her extreme comfort.

Wrapped up in her friends' coats, Nichols thought to herself, "I'm not processing; I'm confused; I can't move my legs." After more than an hour passed, she was medi-flighted to a nearby hospital, where she ultimately learned her fate.


Nichols' accident put her on a course to make history. Competing as a Paralympian, she became the first American woman to win gold medals in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. In Beijing in 2008, she helped the U.S. win the wheelchair basketball championship. In Vancouver in 2010, she won four medals, including two golds, in mono skiing.

The London Paralympics opened Wednesday, and Nichols will be looking for another gold in wheelchair basketball. She also has the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi on her mind already. It's the kind of success she has had in sports, beginning at an early age.

When Nichols was 9 months old, her father was the innocent and fatal victim of a drunk driver. Her then 24-year-old mother was left to raise three young children alone and deal with the aftermath of such tragedy. It's a task that many are unable to handle, and one that Nichols' mother struggled with mightily.

Fortunately for Nichols, maternal grandparents David and Joan Vilven lived nearby. When she was 2, her grandparents became her legal guardian, and by the time she was 13, they had adopted her. Joan was the one who introduced her to sports. "She was always very athletic," Joan said. "She did well in whatever she tried."

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They don't call him "Djoker" for nothing.

Novak Djokovic, the second seed at this month's U.S. Open, has proven that he is willing to let loose and have some fun. Djokovic's lighter side was on display recently during a practice round at the U.S. Open.

While the Serbian was taking some serves, a young fan yelled out from the stands: "Djokovic, will you marry me?" The crowd burst into laughter, and Djokovic was clearly amused. He invited the youngster to the court and offered his racquet.

The kid took a few serves, and Djokovic raced over to field the balls barehanded. Overall, a very nice gesture by the Djoker.

The proposal occurs at the :26 mark.

One year after dominating the circuit, Djokovic has struggled recently. He was ousted in the semifinals of both Wimbledon and the Olympics. So it's nice to see that even before a crucial tournament, he's still able to have some fun.

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Jordan Mouton has not stopped fighting.

Soccer was the Houston native's first love, but Mouton had to give up the sport at age 12 when she began to lose her sight as a result of a disease called rod-cone dystrophy. While attending a sports camp for blind children Mouton discovered judo, an activity that is suitable for many blind athletes because of its full-contact nature.

Mouton did not simply take to the sport, rather she took off. By 2007, when she was just 18, she placed fifth in the 57kg class at the International Blind Sports Association Championships. One year later she gained 25 pounds and moved up to the 70kg class to represent the United States at the 2008 Paralymics in Beijing.

"Judo gave me something to push for and work hard for," Mouton told TakePart. "It showed me that I don't have limitations just because I can't see anymore."

Mouton has certainly overcome her fair share of adversity coming up in the judo ranks, and her advice to younger disabled athletes would be to ignore the naysayers.

"I used to be able to see and I lost my sight, and I still figured out how to get it done," Mouton said. "And there are going to be a lot of people along the way telling you can’t, but you’ve got to prove it to them that you can because it is possible."

TakePart TV is following Mouton as she prepares for the 2012 Paralympics in London, which kick off on August 29.

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After a little bit of controversy, the Petaluma Little Leaguers are heading to the Little League World Series.

But the costs add up: plane flights for families, hotel rooms, transportation in and around Williamsport, etc.

So to help the Little Leaguers, the Bay Area's two professional teams are stepping up to the plate. The Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants, along with Comcast SportsNet, are donating $15,000 to help the Little Leaguers with their expenses.

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The Petaluma team is the first group from Sonoma County to qualify for the Little League World Series and the first from Northern California in 10 years. If the squad does bring home the trophy, it will be the region's first since Brian Wilson and the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2010.

Hopefully, however, none of the Little Leaguers have facial hair resembling Wilson's.

(H/T to Off the Bench)

-- Follow Robbie Levin on Twitter @Levin_TPG.

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Lee Eddins is in store for a very special surprise.

The 12-year-old Eddins, who was diagnosed with stage four leukemia earlier this year, may not live long enough to see his hometown Sacramento Kings face off against the Indiana Pacers and his idol, Roy Hibbert, this fall.

So Hibbert is taking matters into his own hands. The 7-footer will be traveling to Sacramento later this week to meet with Eddins.

"Once I heard he had a dying wish, I knew I had to do something more than send him presents and Skype with him on the computer," Hibbert told the Indianapolis Star.

Eddins' condition started with cold-like symptoms but became much worse over the past year. After a blood transfusion Eddins was diagnosed with leukemia, which called for a bone marrow transplant. Eddins had the transplant in June, but the bone marrow didn't take.

As Eddins' family mulled the options, Eddins developed an infection which spread throughout both of his lungs. Doctors determined that chemotherapy would be too brutal on Eddins' immune system, and Eddins was moved into hospice care last week.

"I'm usually uncomfortable going to hospitals when the Pacers do events because it's pretty tough to see kids in that situation," Hibbert said. "Once I heard about (Lee), I realized I had to get over it and do it for him."

-- Follow Robbie Levin on Twitter @RobbieLevin.

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A lot of people were sad to see Jeremy Lin leave the Knicks. In particular, one young fan named Naim was crushed when he heard the news.

Naim became somewhat of an internet sensation when a video of him crying in the wake of Lin's departure garnered tens of thousands of views on YouTube. As it turns out, one of those viewers was Lin himself.

After seeing the video, Lin reached out to Naim and his family and set up a Skype meeting. Naim's family recorded the meeting and posted it on YouTube this week.

Naim is very shy in front of the camera, reacting the same way most other 5-year-olds would when they meet their idols. Still, as Naim's father says in the video, this was the experience of a lifetime for the youngster.

This incredibly kind gesture from Lin turned into an unforgettable moment for the entire family. What a guy.

-- Follow Robbie Levin on Twitter @RobbieLevin.

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