We’ll start today’s post with a question: how many of the 72 amputee athletes on Team USA are previous Paralympic medal winners? Scroll down for the answer.
FLYING THE FLAG
The Opening Ceremonies are underway as we type. Back in May we connected back with one of Team USA’s flag bearers, Melissa Stockwell, who (if you don’t already know, but you should) was the first Iraq veteran to compete in the Paralympics, back in 2008. During Military Appreciation Month this spring, we talked with Stockwell about the parallels between representing the country as a soldier and representing it as an athlete. Part of her answer: “If you’re a Paralympian and you’re at the level of elite competition, you probably have made it there because you have some similar values to somebody who has worn a military uniform. You both have a commitment to wanting to be your best. You have a commitment to being part of a team. You know the importance of showing up on time and holding yourself accountable. Without some of those habits, you couldn’t make it to the highest level. we all have the dreams of representing our country. I’ve never really thought about it before, but I do feel there are many parallels there.”
The Opening Ceremonies will re-air tonight on NBCSN at 7pm Eastern.
TODAY’S COMPETITION: WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
Competition kicks off this evening on the US clock (it will be Wednesday morning, August 25, in Japan), and a couple of amputee medal contenders will be in the pool. At ~8 pm (all times Eastern), Natalie Sims will swim her qualifying heat for the 100 meter freestyle (classification S9). Sims won gold in this event at the 2019 Parapan American Games. Another star of the Parapans, Matthew Torres, will swim the same race on the men’s side for classification S8. Amputees aside, a number of other big-time swimmers will be competing tonight, including Gia Pergolini and David Abrahams. Cyclist Shawn Morelli will be on the track for a qualifying race, and table-tennis stud Tahl Leibovitz has his first match.
VIEWS FROM TOKYO
Hunter Woodhall posted a ~13-minute video that offers a glimpse of the accommodations in Tokyo. He’s not in the Olympic Village yet, due to COVID protocols; watch the video and he’ll explain it all. Triathlete Eric McElvenny is in the Village, an he found a bunch of cards from home waiting for him when he checked into his room. Brian Bell and some of his teammates on the gold-medal-defending wheelchair basketball team put together a rap video to welcome fans to the Games. Ezra Frech‘s dad, Angel City Sports founder Clayton Frech, is keeping a running diary at his Facebook page with details of the journey.
We couldn’t be happier for Nichole Millage, a late addition to the sitting volleyball roster. Here’s hoping she will go out on top with another gold medal.
Twenty-four of the amputee athletes competing in Tokyo have won medals. That figure includes eight members of the women’s sitting volleyball team, and three members of the men’s wheelchair basketball team.