We joined Cosi Belloso on COSI Talks last night for another conversation about the Paralympics (watch it here), and we were lucky to be joined on the show by Paralympic medalist John Register, an above-knee amputee who won silver in the long jump at Sydney in 2000. As per usual, we learned a ton from talking with John. A couple of nuggets:
* He’s doing a daily Paralympic commentary at his LinkedIn page, drawing on his experience of more than 25 years working with adaptive athletes. You can find the full collection here; the most recent entry is a conversation with Toyota executives Dedra DeLilli and Nicole Peterson, who are shaping the company’s support for adaptive athletes in general and the Paralympics in particular.
* Register explained that only about 30 percent of Paralympic athletes find employment after they retire from competition. The other 70 percent struggle to make a living, despite the marketable qualities (organization, discipline, motivation, persistence, analysis, strategic planning, etc.) they have demonstrated in attaining elite status as an athlete.
* One other fascinating item: Register shared that much of the current drive toward inclusion among corporations stems from a 2018 study of shareholder returns, which showed that companies which proactively employed persons with disabilities outperformed other companies in the stock market by a wide margin.
On to the latest news from Tokyo:
JEREMY CAMPBELL RETURNS TO THE THRONE
For the third time in the last four cycles, Jeremy Campbell walked off with a gold medal in discus. The world-record holder ended the suspense with his first throw, a 60-meter bomb. No subsequent toss from any competitor came within four meters of that mark. After winning discus gold in 2008 and 2012, Campbell missed the podium altogether in Rio five years ago. With a world record toss earlier this year and a dominant showing in Tokyo, 2021 cements Campbell’s legacy as an all-time Paralympic great.
BLAKE HAXTON CHURNS INTO SEMIS
In the new discipline of paracanoe, bilateral AK amputee Blake Haxton blazed to the second-fastest time in the qualifying heats. He’ll race in the semifinals tomorrow night at about 8 pm Eastern; the finals take place about an hour later. Haxton narrowly missed a Paralympic medal in rowing five years ago at Rio.
SPOILERS: SWIMMING, BASKETBALL
Here are the highlights from overnight / early this morning:
Women’s 4×100 medley relay: Morgan Stickney won her second gold of the games with another comeback sprint in the last 50 meters of a 400 meter race. The all-amputee US team of Hannah Aspden (backstroke), Mikaela Jenkins (breaststroke), Jessica Long (butterfly), and Stickney (freestyle) stood in fourth place after 300 meters, about five seconds behind the Russians, Australians, and Spaniards. Swimming the anchor leg, Stickney sped into third place at the turn, caught the final two swimmers in the final 20 meters, and won the race going away. She’s a phenomenal competitor.
Women’s 100m butterfly (S9): Lizzi Smith swam to her third career medal and her first individual medal, taking silver in an event where she finished 4th at the last Paralympics. Both of her medals at Rio (one silver, one gold) came in relay races.
Women’s wheelchair basketball: Team USA fell to China 41-36 in the semifinals, setting up a bronze-medal match against Germany. That will be an overnight affair for most of the country, unfortunately; tipoff is 4:45 am Eastern time on Saturday.