Welcome Back Readers~
Entering the home stretch of the Olympics, Simone Biles’ triumphant return to gymnastics continues to captivate the hearts and minds of most media outlets; her message of perseverance in light of her difficulties remains a primary topic of interest during the games. Don’t get me wrong; I am happy that Simone returned to the Games and was able to once again participate in the sport she loves. However, I can’t help but think we’ve missed out on a lot because the media’s primary focus has been on the “big” athletes.
Let me explain…
Click While watching the events on TV one night; I was captivated by a Toyota commercial. This one featured bits and pieces of Paraolympian swimmer Jessica Long’s story. I will go into more detail about her adoption and talent for swimming a bit later. But you can imagine my surprise and delight at realizing the Paralympics were coming up. I’d completely forgotten about them.
Why is that?
Paralympic athletes have just as much of a story to tell as anyone else- maybe even more so. Sure, they’ve overcome a lot in the sport to get where they are today; but even more than that, they’ve overcome a lot in life as well.
Take, for example, the inspiring true story of Paralympian Jessica Long. Long was born in Russia with a rare condition called fibular hemimelia, meaning she didn’t have most of the bones in her feet. Wanting the best place possible for her daughter, this 16-year-old mother made the most difficult decision of her life to put her child up for adoption. Beth and Steve Long come into the picture at this point. In addition to Jessica, the couple was also in the process of adopting a little boy named Joshua to complete their family.
But Jessica’s life was never easy. At about two, her legs got amputated to improve her quality of life and mobility. From then on, she went on to endure about 25 surgeries to fit the changing prosthetic legs as she continued to grow. Despite her limitations, her family encouraged her to go out for whatever sports interested her. Some of these activities included gymnastics, ice-skating, rock climbing, and jumping on the trampoline. She also enjoyed swimming-even going as far as pretending she was a mermaid.
Long says that swimming gave her a sense of freedom that she’d never experienced before. She finally released some of her pent-up frustrations in dealing with her disability in the water.
Making her Paralympic debut in Athens at age 12, she came home with three gold medals
After a disappointing showing in Rio as well as several injuries, she developed an eating disorder
To read more of Jessica’s amazing story, it can be accessed here:https://olympics.com/en/featured-news/siberia-to-swimming-stardom-paralympic-jessica-long-amazing-story(I paraphrased some of the article)
Now that I know her story, I will watch and root for her during the Paralympics this summer. By the way, they are going to be August 24-September 5