U.S. sitting volleyball player Lora Webster is competing at the Tokyo Paralympics while 20 weeks pregnant with her fourth child.
And oh, by the way, she’s done this before.
Tokyo marks Webster’s fifth Paralympic appearance and second time competing while pregnant. The Arizona native was also pregnant – about 20 weeks along – when she won silver at the 2012 London Games.
“I know how to compete pregnant. My body knows what to do I know how to make sure that I’m protecting (the) baby,” she told Olympic Information Service. “But as far as competition goes, the goal is still the same and my effort and my dedication to getting that job done is still the same. This is just a circumstance of it.”
During the 2012 London Paralympics, Webster said she kept her pregnancy a secret from her teammates. Heading into Tokyo, though, she decided to share her news with her team – and the world. She announced that she was expecting her fourth child in July via Instagram.
“People need to know that as long as you’re healthy, and I’m not trying to give medical advice by any stretch, it is possible to remain active and a pregnancy doesn’t have to derail your goals,” she said.
“Physically I don’t feel any different when I’m playing, and this baby’s just along for the ride.”
In the lead-up to the Tokyo Paralympics, Webster received a $10,000 grant from “the Power of She Fund,” which was set up by the Women’s Sports Foundation and Athleta to help athletes pay for childcare costs. While Webster is in Tokyo, her mom is in New York helping take care of her three kids: Madelyn, Colton, and Kyle.
“This money is going to help us just make sure that my parents are taken care of when my mom loses those 10 days of work,” Webster told NPR earlier this month.
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Women’s sitting volleyball debuted at the 2004 Athens Paralympics and Webster has participated in every edition of the Games since, helping the U.S. claim bronze in 2004, silver in 2008 and 2012, and gold in 2016.
The U.S. women’s sitting volleyball team will open its Tokyo tournament on Saturday with a match against Rwanda.
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How to watch the Tokyo Paralympics
NBC will provide over 1,200 hours of Paralympic coverage. Here are some highlights: