These Paralympians Have Unfinished Business in Paris

Any Paralympic athlete will tell you it’s an honor simply to compete, and winning medals is just the icing on the cake. But who prefers cake without icing? Team USA’s delegation in Paris later this summer will include a handful of amputees who’ve savored Paralympic competition before, but never tasted the sweet frosting of a podium finish. 

Everyone listed here stands a realistic shot at winning their first medal in 2024. Some have been chasing the goal for many years, exhibiting the same persistence and resilience that amputees routinely display outside the athletic arena.

Visit Amplitude’s Paralympic microsite for extensive coverage of Team USA’s amputee athletes.

Ezra Frech

Track and Field (T63)

It seems odd to start this list with Frech, who’s already a world champion, a world record holder, and a fast-rising social media influencer and fashion model. But for all he’s accomplished (at just 18 years old!), Frech has yet to hang a Paralympic medal around his neck—and he’s hungry for it. He finished fifth in the high jump in Tokyo. Anything less than gold won’t satisfy him in Paris. 

Chris Hammer

Triathlon (PTS5)

He’s come agonizingly close to the Paralympic podium two times, finishing fourth in 2020 (by six seconds) and 2016 (by 29 seconds). Since the Tokyo Games, Hammer has won a world championship and became the first para athlete to compete in the pro field at an Ironman event. He enters 2024 ranked first in the world in his classification. The third time may be the charm. 

Eric Bennett

Archery (Recurve Open)

At 50 years old, Bennett might be the oldest American to compete in Paris. But despite a storied career that includes a World Championship title and several other high-profile international triumphs, he has never advanced past the semis in four Paralympic appearances. He’s still a medal threat, having set a single-round world record in 2020 and finished sixth at Worlds just two years ago. 

Beatriz Hatz, Femita Ayanbeku, and Sydney Barta

Track and Field (T64)

These three teammates finished 2023 ranked fourth through sixth in the world in the 100-meter dash; Hatz and Barta finished in the top five in the 200 meters; and Hatz ranked fourth in the world in the long jump. Surely there’s a Paris medal lurking in there somewhere. The best podium bet might be Hatz in the long jump—she finished fifth in Tokyo and fourth at the 2023 Worlds. 

Kelly Elmlinger

Triathlon (PTS4)

One of the few Iraq/Afghanistan veterans still competing for Team USA, Elmlinger has advanced by leaps and bounds since her seventh-place finish at the Tokyo Games. She has since won two world championships (including last year’s) and enters 2024 as the dominant figure in her classification. Since triathlon became a Paralympic medal event in 2016, US women have won four of the seven races. Elmlinger is a favorite to continue that trend.

Stetson Bardfield

Shooting (Rifle)

The 23-year-old Coloradan is among the youngest competitors in a sport that rewards experience. But he already has racked up some impressive international wins, including two gold medals at the Parapan American Games. Bardfield shot his way to a sixth-place finish at Tokyo in the 10-meter air rifle prone competition.

Top image: Florence Piot/stock.adobe.com

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