Vlada Kravchenko's world came crashing down when she was sustained a spinal cord injury after a lighting structure fell on her during a party in September 2008.

But the 25-year-old will today defy the odds when she flies to Rio to represent Malta in the Paralympic Games. 

She will be competing in 50m butterfly, 50m backstroke and 100m breaststroke against the best swimmers in her category from around the world.

"Sports has allowed me to focus on leading a positive life despite the devastating injury," she said. 

Vlada, who has paraplegia, will be Malta's sole paralympic representative, after two other athletes, including Beijing 2012 paralympian Antonio Flores, dropped out.

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