These Paralympic Rookies Are Ready for Prime Time

If not for the pandemic, Morgan Stickney would have entered 2024 as one of Team USA’s most heralded Paralympic rookies. But when COVID postponed the 2020 Games by 12 months, she didn’t have to wait that long to reach her first Paralympics. The extra year gave Stickney time to rehab from her second below-knee amputation, return to peak form, and qualify for Tokyo, where she swam to two gold medals. 

Several other US athletes took advantage of the one-year delay to accelerate their debuts by a full cycle. Amputee competitors such as Jonathan Gore, Noelle Lambert, and Haven Shepherd will prepare for the 2024 Paralympics as seasoned veterans rather than hopeful first-timers. 

But even with those defections from this year’s rookie class, Team USA will bring a strong group of newcomers to Paris. The athletes below all appear ready not only to make the 2024 Paralympic team but to contend for medals. 

Derek Loccident
Track and Field (T64)

One of the few NCAA football players ever to compete on a prosthetic leg, Loccident shifted his focus to para athletics after graduating in 2022. He’s still finding his form as a sprinter, but Loccident is already a medal favorite in the long jump after winning silver at last summer’s World Championships. 

Bobby Body
Powerlifting (107 kg)

Yes, that’s his real name—and he’s got the physique to back it up. A relative newcomer to the sport, Body increased his maximum lift by nearly 10 percent between the World Championships last September (where he missed the podium) and the Parapan American Games ten weeks later, where he won gold. At that rate of improvement, he’ll be a medal contender in Paris.

Noelle Malkamaki
Track and Field (F46)

Until a couple years ago, this congenital below-elbow amputee considered herself “not disabled enough” for parasports. Malkamaki is now a world-record holder in the shotput, the reigning world champion in that event, and a prohibitive favorite to win the gold medal—and to shatter the Paralympic record in the process. 

Carson Clough
Triathlon (PTS4)

At last summer’s test race in Paris, using the actual Paralympic course, Clough finished a strong fourth and missed the podium by just 13 seconds. He came in fifth the following month at Worlds, rounding out a strong season that included five medal finishes and a US national title. 

Samantha Heyison
Track and Field (F44)

Alicia Guerrero
Track and Field (F64)

Both of these throwing specialists excel in discus and shotput. Heyison is more accomplished, having medaled in both events at last year’s Worlds, but the up-and-coming Guerrero won a bronze at the Parapan Games. The classification protocol for Paralympic throwing events appears to favor Heyison.

Paralympic Rookies of 2028?

These US amputees might be ready for the spotlight when the Games come to Los Angeles in four years.

Kyle Stepp, triathlon

Won the US title in his classification last September

Braxton Wong, swimming

Already the fastest US freestyle specialist in his classification

Max Rohn, track and field

Silver medalist in discus at the ’23 Parapan Games 

Evan Correll, wheelchair racing

Won three medals (one gold) at the ’23 Parapan Games

Hannah Nelson, swimming

Made an impressive debut at the 2023 Worlds

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