UPDATE 9/3/2021: Swimmer Jessica Long closed out her fourth Paralympic Games with a gold medal in the women’s 100-meter butterfly in the S8 classification with a time of 1:09.87. This achievement marks Long’s third Paralympic gold in the event after winning the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Games. (She earned a bronze in Rio in 2016.) The medal is also her sixth of the Tokyo Games: She also earned gold in the 200-meter individual medley SM8 and the 4×100-meter medley relay, as well as silver in the 100-meter backstroke SB7 and 400-meter freestyle S8, and bronze in the 100-meter backstroke S8.
The remaining medals for the women’s 100-meter butterfly (S8 classification) went to Viktoriia Ishchiulova of Russia, who earned silver in 1:10.80; and Laura Carolina Gonzalez Rodriguez, who took home bronze with a time of 1:20.93.
With 29 career Paralympic medals and 16 gold, 29-year-old Long is now the second-most decorated Paralympic athlete in history, behind American swimmer Trischa Zorn-Hudson, who earned 55 medals across seven Paralympic Games from 1980 to 2004.
Originally published 8/28/21:
The most decorated active U.S. Paralympian just added one more medal to her collection. Swimmer Jessica Long won gold on Saturday in the women’s 200-meter individual medley (I.M.) in the SM8 classification (a classification for physical impairment) at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. It’s her fourth straight victory in the event, meaning she’s earned gold in it at every Games since 2008.
“I’m over the moon,” Long told the Olympic Information Service after the final, according to NBC Sports. “That’s what I really wanted going into these Games was to have a four-peat in the 200 I.M. Just really proud of myself.”
Long finished in 2 minutes, 41.49 seconds, ahead of Xenia Francesca Palazzo of Italy (2:47.86) and Mariia Pavlova of the Russian Paralympic Committee (2:48.63). She holds the current Paralympic record of 2:37.09, which she set at the London 2012 Games.
A five-time Paralympian, Long now owns 25 Paralympic medals, including 14 golds. Her 200-meter I.M. gold marks her second medal in Tokyo—she took bronze in the women’s 100-meter backstroke S8 on Friday.
Long made her Paralympic debut in Athens at age 12, where she won three golds, and has competed in every Games since. Long now stands as the second-most decorated U.S. Paralympian in history behind swimmer Trischa Zorn, who holds a whopping 55 medals, reports NBC Sports.
For Long, competing in five Paralympics has been an increasingly thrilling journey. “As a 12-year-old when I won my first gold in Athens, I wanted people to know what the Paralympic games were,” Long said, per Team USA. “Each year the excitement and the buildup for the Paralympics Games has grown more and more. Here in Tokyo, this is one of my favorite Paralympics I’ve ever attended.”
Beyond her prowess in the pool, Long, a bilateral below-knee amputee, is committed to changing the narrative that people with disabilities are inspiring for simply living their lives. As she told SELF previously, while she has patience and compassion for questions related to her disability—both in real life and on social media (she has 1 million followers on TikTok)—she feels frustrated by those who are impressed by her regular day-to-day. “That shouldn’t be inspiring,” Long said previously. “But I love being an inspiration for my accomplishments.”
Speaking of accomplishments, Long has three more opportunities to add to her hardware haul before the end of the Games. In the coming week she will compete in the 400-meter freestyle S8, the 100-meter breaststroke SB7, and the 100-meter butterfly S8.
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