My name is Billy Lister. When I was 15 years old I was diagnosed with a rare and acute brain abnormality known as an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM). To address this life threatening malformation, I underwent invasive brain surgery. Although the surgery was a success in eliminating the AVM, I started experiencing swelling on my brain, which led to a rapid loss of function on the left side of my body.
Then, in June of 1999, I suffered a stroke. Unfortunately, this event caused me to lose my ability to perform even the simplest of tasks such as typing on a keyboard, brushing my teeth and even walking. Due to the potential dangers of having additional surgeries performed, I was advised to allow my condition to take its course in order for the doctors to fully understand the extent of my impairment. For four weeks, I experienced slow and regressive paralysis, which led to permanent paralysis on the left side of my body.
My dream was to go to the Olympics one day. I just needed to figure out what sport. I dabbled in everything from swimming to softball before finding my gift with running, which earned me a scholarship to California State University, Northridge. After earning a degree in Criminology, I decided to give Triathlon a try! It was at this time that I met my husband, Courtney who got me started in Mountain Biking. At the end of 2001 I turned pro in both Mountain Biking and Xterra (off-road triathlons!) My Olympic dream was taking shape!
For nearly 7 years, I dominated the Xterra scene both in the U.S. and overseas. I racked up 37 Championship wins (more than any other female or male at that time), 6 U.S. Championship Titles and 1 World Title. In 2008, I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, which was wrapped around my sciatic nerve. I lost the use of most of my left leg with a condition called complete “drop foot.” I also lost the use of my hamstring and glute muscle. It looked like my plans to go to the Olympics were over, along with my pro career.
Aged only 27 at the time of her brain hemorrhage and stroke, Giglia used her training as sports and fitness coach to identify sports which could help her rehabilitation and, after impressing at a British Cycling talent identification event was accepted onto the Paralympic Development Programm in May 2014.
Giglia’s progress was as impressive as it was swift.
At the Newport Para-cycling International in early 2015, Giglia enjoyed her first major success in international competition by winning silver in the individual pursuit and bronze in the 500-meter time trial.
Following this performance she was selected for her debut UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Apeldoorn, Holland and finished fourth in the time trial and individual pursuit.
She recorded her first podium finish on the road, finishing third in both the time trial and road race at the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup in Maniago, Italy, in June 2015, before her two fourth places in the same events at the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships later that summer.