Guide to the 2024 Paralympic Games 

Which American amputees have the best chance to shine in Paris? 

Team USA will send roughly 250 athletes to the 2024 Paralympics, and about 100 of them will compete with limb loss/limb difference. Amputees can enter all but three of the 22 Paralympic medal sports, but America’s top medal contenders are clustered in a few areas of strength. Here’s a sport-by-sport guide to the US Paralympic team’s amputee stars.


TRACK AND FIELD

Six American amputees won track and field medals at the 2020 Paralympics. That number could double in Paris, thanks to a wave a talented newcomers. Earlier this spring at the World Para Athletics Championships, eight US amputees made the podium, including four first-time medalists and two teenagers. Team USA’s roster will also include four world-record holders. 

Amputee Classifications: T44-47, T61-64, F44-47, F61-64

Medal Favorites

EZRA FRECH (T63)
One of the nation’s top ambassadors for adaptive sports, Frech won his first World Championship last summer in the high jump, while tying his own world record. Although he slipped to silver at this spring’s Worlds, he remains the gold-medal favorite in Paris—and could also medal in long jump

Hunter Woodhall.
Mark Davidson/Alamy

HUNTER WOODHALL (T62)
After a two year-slump, Woodhall made a strong statement at the 2024 World Championships with silver medals in the 100 and 400 meter sprints. The three-time Paralympic medalist has never finished atop the podium; will this be the year?

NOELLE MALKAMAKI (F46)
A congenital below-elbow amputee, Malakmaki never considered herself “disabled enough” for parasports until very recently. Better late than never: She’s now the two-time reigning world champion in shotput, a world-record holder, and the prohibitive favorite not only to win gold but also to shatter the Paralympic record. 

Derek Loccident.
Nippon News/AFLOSPORT/Alamy

DEREK LOCCIDENT (T64)
At last summer’s Worlds, his first international competition, Loccident shocked the field with a silver medal in long jump. He repeated that feat at the ’24 Worlds, while adding a second silver (and new world record) in high jump and a bronze in the 100 meters. Loccident may not win gold in Paris, but at some point he’s going to.

Jeremy Campbell.
PAImages/Alamy

JEREMY CAMPBELL (F64)
Not many amputee athletes have dominated their sport for as long as Campbell has. He’s going for a fifth consecutive gold medal in discus, holds the world record in that event, and has won ESPN’s “Best Male Athlete With a Disability” twice.

Medal Hopefuls

BEATRIZ HATZ (T64)
Fearless competitor came close in Tokyo and won her first Worlds medal in May. Will contend for Paris podium in long jump and sprints.

ARELLE MIDDLETON (F64)
Sensational 16-year-old unexpectedly won silver in shotput at Worlds this spring. Also made strong 6th-place showing in discus.

Sidney Barta.
MATSUO.K/AFLOSPORT/Alamy

SYDNEY BARTA (T64)
Sprint specialist won silver at ’24 Worlds in 200 meter race

FEMITA AYENBAKU (T64)
Comeback candidate seeks redemption after COVID derailed 2020 medal hopes in 100 meters.

Trenton Merrill.
Nippon News/AFLOSPORT/Alamy

TRENTEN MERRILL (T64)
Strong contender for second career Paralympic medal in long jump.

Blake Leeper.
SlavekRuta/ZUMAWire/Alamy

BLAKE LEEPER (T62)
Hoping to return to peak form in sprints and reach Paralympic podium for first time in 12 years.

JOSH CINNAMO (F46)
One-time Paralympic medalist holds current world record in shotput, but finished a distant 5th at ’24 Worlds.

KORBAN BEST (T47)
Missed podium by .05 seconds in 100 meter sprint at ’24 Worlds. Could finish anywhere from 1st to 5th in tightly packed Paralympic field.


SWIMMING

The United States brings a veteran team to Paris, led by the greatest amputee swimmer of all time, Jessica Long. Six other amputees on the roster have previously won Paralympic medals, and three are current world-record holders.

Amputee Classifications: S5–S10

Medal Favorites

JESSICA LONG (S8)
Entering her sixth Paralympics, Long ranks fifth in career medals with 29. She can (and probably will) rise to third in Paris: She’s the reigning world champion in two events, holds a top-five world ranking in half a dozen events, and has a good chance to pick up a Paris medal in a relay race. Will these be her final Games? She’s only 32. 

Julia Gaffney.
John Walton/Alamy

JULIA GAFFNEY (S7)
There’s only one major accomplishment left for this high achiever: a Paralympic gold medal. Gaffney holds two world records, has won three World Championship gold medals, and brought home a couple of bronzes from the Tokyo Paralympics. Her best shots at a gold are the 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley—she won both events at the 2022 Worlds.

Ellie Marks.
Operation2021/Alamy

ELLIE MARKS (S6)
Perhaps this will finally be the year Marks gets the recognition she deserves. Despite winning five Paralympic medals (including two golds) and setting five world records, she doesn’t garner much attention—perhaps because, as an active-duty Army SFC, she shies away from media attention. She’s at the top of her game and poised for a big medal haul in Paris.

Morgan Stickney.
MartinRickett/PAImages/Alamy

MORGAN STICKNEY (S7)
Since her dominant performance in Tokyo, Stickney has required multiple surgeries to arrest the progression of her rare vascular disease. The changes haven’t hampered her performance—she won two gold medals at last summer’s Worlds—but they did necessiate a shift from the S8 to S7 classification. 

Medal Hopefuls

LIZZI SMITH (S9)
Versatile sprinter, three-time Paralympic medalist has podium potential in multiple events.

Matthew Torres.
John Walton/PAImages/Alamy

MATTHEW TORRES (S8)
If healthy, freestyle specialist has gold-medal potential, especially at 400 meters. 

HANNAH ASPDEN (S9)
Two-time gold medalist is battling to return to top form after injury-plagued 2023. 


Three Things to Know About Paralympic Classification

1. Each sport has its own classification numbering system. Track and field ranges from 11 to 72; swimming, from 1 to 14; triathlon, from 1 to 5; and so forth. Visit Lexi.global for a complete guide.

2. Higher numbers correspond to lower levels of impairment. In track and field, for example, a unilateral below-knee amputee (T64) has a higher number than a unliateral above-knee (T63) or bilateral below-knee (T62).

3. Some classifications include both amputee and non-amputee competitors. For example, S8 swimmers have moderate impairment to movement in one or more limbs, which may be due to limb loss, nerve disorders, muscle damage, or other causes.


PARATRIATHLON

US women have dominated the amputee classifications since Paratriathlon became a medal sport in 2016, claiming nearly half of the podium slots. On the men’s side, Team USA has only placed one racer (and no amputees) on the medal stand so far, but that’s likely to change in 2024.

Amputee Classifications: PTS2–PTS5

Medal Favorites

Kelly Elmlinger.
NaokiNishimura/AFLOSPORT/Alamy

Kelly Elmlinger (PTS2)
Don’t be fooled by her 7th-place finish in the Tokyo Games. There wasn’t a race in Elmlinger’s classification, so she was forced to compete in PTS5 against racers with two natural legs. The Paris program includes a PTS4 triathlon, and Elmlinger will probably win it: She finished first in all six of her 2023 races and won last year’s world championship by three-plus minutes. 

HAILEY DANZ (PTS2)
Danz is the favorite to win her first Paralympic gold after silver-medal finishes in the 2020 and 2016 Games. She’s won all but one of her international races since 2022 and hasn’t finished worse than second in an international race since 2019. 

Chris Hammer.
Danny Lawson/PAImages/Alamy

CHRIS HAMMER (PTS5)
After missing the medal stand by an agonizing six seconds at the last Paralympics, Hammer hasn’t missed a podium in international competition since. He’s spent the last two years training full-time, and he finished first at a “test run” in Paris last summer on the Paralympic course. 

MOHAMED LAHNA (PTS2)
He won bronze while racing for his native Morocco in 2016, and likely would have medaled for Team USA at the 2020 Games if there had been a PTS2 men’s race. That event is on the program this year, and Lahna—the reigning world champion in PTS2—is the gold-medal favorite. 

Grace Norman.
Operation 2022/Alamy

GRACE NORMAN (PTS5)
Since taking silver at the Tokyo Paralympics and the ensuing 2021 World Championships, Norman has won 14 of 15 sanctioned races, including two world titles. A gold medal in Paris would be the second of her career (she also won gold at the 2016 Rio Games).

Medal Hopefuls

Alyssa Seely.
OlivierDouliery/abaca/Alamy

ALYSSA SEELY (PTS2)
Two-time Paralympic gold medalist has only run five international races since 2021.

MELISSA STOCKWELL (PTS2)
Came out of retirement to clam spot on her fifth Paralympic team. 

MARK BARR (PTS2)
Seeks redemption after missing podium by mere seconds at 2016 Games.


Where to Watch the 2024 Paralympics

NBC Universal will provide more than 1,600 hours of live coverage, so you can watch every event as it happens. The bulk of those hours will be on Peacock, NBCU’s streaming service. USA Network and CNBC will chip in 140 hours of daily cable TV coverage, and the flagship NBC network will broadcast nine hours (six in prime time). 

Former Paralympian (and Amplitude contributor) Lacey Henderson will co-anchor the networks’ coverage from Paris.


CYCLING

Since cycling became a Paralympic sport in 1984, the United States has won more medals than any nation. But Team USA brought home just eight medals from the Tokyo Games, and it’s not a sure thing they’ll top that mark substantially in 2024. About half the amputees pedalling for Team USA in Paris are 40 or older, and at least two are in their 50s.

Amputee Classifications: C2-C3, H4-H5

Medal Favorites

Oksana Masters.
CaseyB.Gibson/Alamy

OKSANA MASTERS (H5)
After winning two gold medals in Tokyo, Masters added world championship titles in 2022 and 2023. With 17 career Paralympic medals in three sports (rowing, cycling, and cross-country skiing), she is the second-most-decorated American amputee in history, trailing only Jessica Long. 

Medal Hopefuls

FREDDIE DE LOS SANTOS (H5)
Spent most of 2020s hovering just off podium in major events, but could grab a Paris medal if breaks go his way.

ALLISON JONES (C2)
Last cycled in Paralympics eight years ago, but late-career renaissance has her back in medal contention. 

Jamie Whitmore.
PaulKitagakiJr./Sacramento
Bee/MCT/Alamy

JAMIE WHITMORE (C3)
Former Paralympic gold medalist has clawed back to #2 in world rankings at age 48. 

JOE BERENYI (C3)
At 56 years old, ageless wonder can still turn cranks with the best of ’em.


TEAM SPORTS

Heather Erikson. YangLei/Xinhua/Alamy

WOMEN’S SITTING VOLLEYBALL
It took Team USA three tries to win the gold medal game at the Paralympics. Since breaking through in 2016, the Americans haven’t loosened their grip on the trophy. They won a second gold in 2021 and enter the 2024 tournament as the favorites. They drew a tough schedule, with early-round games against arch-rival China and host nation France. The roster’s key amputee players include Nicky Nieves, Katie Holloway, Mackenzie Franklin, and Kaleo Kanahele.

MEN’S WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL
Global competition keeps getting tougher, but it hasn’t gotten tough enough yet to wrest the title from Team USA. They’ll return the core of the team that won the last two Paralympic gold medals, along with the 2022 World Championship tournament. Expect veteran amputee forwards Brian Bell and Trevon Jenifer to see major playing time, with Jorge Salazar supplying minutes off the bench.

MEN’S WHEELCHAIR RUGBY
After silver-medal finishes at the 2020 and 2016 Paralympics and the 2022 World Championships, Team USA hopes to return to the top of the podium with an infusion of new talent. The rookies include Zion Redington, a 17-year-old quadruple amputee who took up the sport at age nine. 


OTHER US AMPUTEES TO WATCH

Archery
Matt Stutzman, aka the Armless Archer, hopes to bring home his first Paralympic gold. Teammate Eric Bennett will appear in his fifth Paralympics at age 51, while 15-year-old Jordan White will be the youngest American archer ever to appear in the Paralympics.

Wheelchair Tennis
Former teen phenom Conner Stroud is all grown up. After contributing to Team USA’s unexpected win at the World Team Cup, he’s on track to compete in his second Paralympics.

Beatrice de Lavalette.
SportInPictures/Alamy

Para Dressage
Since her Paralympics debut in Tokyo, Beatrice de Lavalette has won a bronze medal at the 2022 world championships and a Para Dressage Rider of the Year trophy.

Powerlifting
The aptly named Bobby Body only recently took up paralifting. A fast learner, he followed up an impressive debut at last year’s Worlds with a gold medal at the Parapan American Games.

Paracanoe

Blake Haxton. DelMecum/CSM/Alamy

Tokyo silver medalist Blake Haxton returns for his third Paralympics after taking bronze at this year’s Worlds. He’ll be joined by rookie paddler Jillian Elwart, a longtime Shriner’s prosthetist.

Para Shooting
Purple Heart recipient Kevin Nguyen will represent the USA in air rifle for the second straight Paralympics, while John Wayne Joss competes in his third Games.

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