So, Sunday began the last 100 days to the opening ceremonies of the Paralympic games in Tokyo. You know me. I love numbers almost as much as I love gold medals.
Which leads me to my latest list, 100 ways I’ve experienced Paralympic sports, and ultimately, why I love them so much.
Now, I know that sounds like a lot, and it is. But I’m going to break it into chunks, 25 at a time. What follows constitutes only a quarter of my love of the games and the opportunities they’ve given me. Enjoy!
- The excitement that filled my body as I stepped inside of the Athens Paralympic stadium for my first games
- My mom, grandma, Coach Whitmer, and his wife were all in the stadium to watch me win my first Paralympic silver medal
- The feeling of hearing your name being called as a member of the Paralympic games team
- Going from no coverage in 2004 to over 1200 hours of tv coverage for the Tokyo Paralympics this summer
- The excitement that filled my body when I put on my very first Team USA competition gear
- The satisfaction that fills my body when that medal is placed around my neck
- Standing on the podium, having the flag raised in the air, and hearing the national anthem!
- Traveling to new countries and experiencing new cultures
- Building friendships, not only with fellow American athletes, but athletes from around the globe
- The excitement of hearing the news that Paralympians would be paid the same amount of medal bonus compensation as Olympians
- The freeing feeling that I get from soaring through the air in the long jump
- In 2011, I won a bronze in the 200m at the world championships in Christchurch, New Zealand. That was an unexpected surprise.
- The excitement of learning that Los Angeles would host the 2028 Olympics and Paralympics!
- I remember the smile that was on my face as we rode on a chartered flight to Beijing for the games! I felt like the man!
- You wouldn’t believe the amount of clothes that we receive before each games. There are roller bags, duffle bags, backpacks, drawstring bags, and they’re all filled with short and long sleeve shirts, shorts, pants, competition gear, leisure wear, medal ceremonies apparel, opening and closing ceremonies apparel, shoes, and so much more!
- I landed outside of the long jump pit during the 2015 world championships, but I got up, brushed it off, and turned in my best jump with the next attempt.
- The day that I broke the world record in the long jump was not ideal. I woke up late, had a short time to warmup and prepare. Turns out that wouldn’t interfere with me soaring to a record-breaking distance.
- Seeing such high awareness of Paralympic sport in places like the UK is so incredible. I believe the day is coming when America has a similar appreciation for Paralympic sport.
- I love the fact that competition gives us the chance to challenge ourselves, to push our bodies and minds to new levels.
- I’ll never forget how loud the Paralympic stadium was in Rio was when the Brazilian won gold in the long jump. The crowd was deafening.
- The feeling of winning my first gold medal at a major international competition. It was the world championships in 2013. I felt like I had gotten a monkey off of my back.
- An official failed to move out of the way during one of my practice attempts for the long jump and I ran into him and tumbled into the sand pit. Hey, I thought the officials were the sighted ones 😊
- I could hear a faint “Yeah, Lex!” from the crowd as I took a victory lap after winning my first Paralympic medal.
- A not-so-good memory is when the International Paralympic Committee removed the triple jump from the games schedule. I believe I would’ve won a medal in that event also.
- Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Cold Play performed at our closing ceremonies in 2012. Did you hear me? I said RIHANNA!