Stickney anchors US women to gold in swimming’s medley relay

Gold medalists Hannah Aspden, Mikaela Jenkins, Jessica Long and Morgan Stickney of Team United States pose during the women’s 4x100m Medley Relay - 34 points medal ceremony on day 9 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
Getty Images

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.”

2020 Tokyo Paralympics - Day 9
TOKYO, JAPAN – U.S. swimmers Hannah Aspden, Mikaela Jenkins and Jessica Long celebrate after their teammate Morgan Stickney touches the wall to win gold in the women’s 4x100m medley relay (34 Points) at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

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.

RELATED: Jessica Long wins 29th medal, calls Tokyo “total success”

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

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

How to watch the Tokyo Paralympics

NBC will provide over 1,200 hours of Paralympic coverage. Here are some highlights:

  • A full Paralympic TV schedule (which includes an overview of coverage on NBC, NBCSN and Olympic Channel) can be found here.
  • Events can also be livestreamed on and the NBC Sports app. More info is available here.