Heading into the final lap of the women’s 4x100m medley relay (34 points) at the Tokyo Paralympics, the United States was in fourth place.
But anchor Morgan Stickney delivered a thrilling final lap, turning a five-second deficit into a three-second victory.
Stickney posted a negative split and touched the wall in 4:52.40. The Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) claimed silver (4:55.55), while Australia won bronze (4:55.70).
U.S. women’s 4x100m medley relay team (34 points):
- Backstroke: Hannah Aspden (S9, Raleigh, N.C.)
- Breaststroke: Mikaela Jenkins (S10, Evansville, Indiana)
- Butterfly: Jessica Long (S8, Baltimore, Maryland)
- Freestyle: Morgan Stickney (S8, Cary, N.C.)
The result marks the U.S. team’s first gold medal in this event since the 2004 Athens Paralympics. Long, who made her Paralympic debut in Athens at age 12, was also a member of that gold medal-winning relay team.
“We did everything in our power and control to be the best we could be, and the outcome speaks for itself,” Long said after the race. “There was this really powerful look between each of us, that we knew we could do it and we didn’t even have to say anything. We just a look with each other and a nod. We know what we’re capable of, and we proved it out in the pool today.”
Aspden, Jenkins, and Stickney now have two gold medals to their name (all earned in Tokyo), while the result marks Long’s 15th career gold and 28th medal of any color.
With 28 medals, Long matches Olympian Michael Phelps‘ career total. But while Phelps is the most decorated Olympian in history, Long still has a bit of work to do if she wants to break the Paralympic record: 55 medals, earned by American swimmer Trischa Zorn.
How do swimming relays work at the Paralympics?
In swimming, there are three disability classifications: physical, intellection, and visually impaired. For athletes with a physical disability, there are 10 sport classes (numbered 1-10). According to World Para Swimming guidelines: “The lower the number, the more severe the activity limitation.”
In the 34-point swimming relays, each team can assemble a four-person roster of athletes classified 1-10, so long as the total team sum does not exceed 34 points.
ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: With 100m silver, Jaleen Roberts adds second Paralympic medal to Tokyo haul
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How to watch the Tokyo Paralympics
NBC will provide over 1,200 hours of Paralympic coverage. Here are some highlights: