As the curtain falls on the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, the spotlight still remains on the incredible accomplishments from Team USA. The Games may have been postponed, but the grit and determination from the U.S. Paralympic Team remained strong and the results in Tokyo proved that. Specifically, the U.S. Team Toyota athletes made their sport dreams a reality and pushed themselves to do their very best on the world’s biggest stage.
At Toyota, we’re inspired by these athletes’ perseverance and dedication to represent our country, our employees and our dealers at the Paralympic Games. We’re proud that they are part of the Toyota family and cannot wait to see where life takes them next!
In their own words, let’s hear about highlights from this year’s extraordinary Paralympic Games from the amazing U.S. Team Toyota athletes themselves.
At 29 years old, Jessica Long won six Paralympic medals in Tokyo, bringing her total career medal count to 29, making her the most decorated active Paralympian in the world. Long, who is the second-most decorated U.S. Paralympian in history, made six podium appearances – three gold, two silver and one bronze – including her fourth consecutive gold medal in the women’s 200m Individual Medley SM8 (pictured).
Quote: “So many people love and support me, and I do know that my worth is with or without the gold medals,” said Long. “But it definitely feels good to be bringing this back to the U.S. and to have a chance for each one of my family members to hold it because they played a massive part in my success. It wasn’t just me winning this. It was everyone who’s helped me.” (Source: Team USA)
At 41 years old, Melissa Stockwell, a U.S. Army veteran and mother of two, competed in her third Paralympic Games finishing fifth in the women’s Paratriathlon PTS2 race. Stockwell was selected to be one of the two Team USA flag bearers for the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, an honor she cherishes, especially after having done so at the Closing Ceremony for the Paralympic Games Beijing 2008.
Quote: “I am so honored and humbled to be chosen by my peers as one of the flag bearers for Team USA,” said Stockwell. “As a veteran, carrying the American flag and representing my sport (Paratriathlon), my country, my Paralympic family and my team — that is an incredible honor. The Paralympics are a showcase of what we can overcome with the power of the human body and the human spirit, and I’m just so proud of where my story has brought me. I’m proud to have the opportunity to represent Team USA at the Paralympics, and I’m ready for Team USA to showcase our athletic ability to the world.” (Source: Team USA)
Brad Snyder made history in Tokyo as he became the first U.S. man to win a Paralympic – or Olympic – medal in an individual event in triathlon. With the assistance from his guide, Snyder won the men’s Paratriathlon PTVI race (pictured), which was also historic as he is the first male Paralympic gold medalist in the visually-impaired category, which made its Paralympic debut in Tokyo for the men after the category was only contested for women at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. This marks the 37-year-old’s first Paralympic medal in Paratriathlon and eighth overall after having previously won seven medals in swimming at the Paralympic Games in Rio and London.
Quote: “We designed it where we wanted to go into the run with that kind of a gap,” Snyder explained. “I did not think we were going to hold it. To have that gap and maintain it was really a cool feeling, and to come into that chute, grab that tape and throw it into the air is not something we’ve been able to do a lot and it was really awesome, for sure.” (Source: USA Triathlon)
At 33 years old, four-time Paralympian Steve Serio won his third career Paralympic medal in Tokyo, winning the gold medal in men’s wheelchair basketball as part of Team USA at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 (pictured). With tough games in pool play and the elimination round, Team Toyota’s Serio continued to be a source of inspiration as co-captain, leading Team USA to a 64-60 victory over Japan as the squad defended its gold medal from Rio 2016.
Quote: “You’ve gotta trust the work that you put in over two decades time and know that you can make that shot at that moment for the team,” said Serio. “It really comes down to the work and preparation when no one is watching in an empty gym.” (Source: NWBA)
At 28 years old, David Brown competed in his third Paralympic Games with the hopes to defend his gold medal from Rio 2016 in the men’s 100m T11 race. Despite not making it to the podium in Tokyo, Brown is optimistic and already looking ahead to the Paralympic Games Paris 2024 with his coach and guide runner.
Quote: “We’re looking forward to Paris because everything has just been so chaotic,” said Brown. “I’ve been training for two years straight with no break. You’ve just got to keep moving forward and we’re going back to the drawing board and see what comes up.” (Source: NBC)
At 31 years old, Jarryd Wallace won his first career Paralympic medal in Tokyo, taking home the bronze medal in the men’s 200m T64 race at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 (pictured). Wallace ran a season-best time to lock in his spot on the podium, an accomplishment that was an emotional one for the three-time Paralympian.
Quote: “I mean I ended it with a bang, for sure,” said Wallace. “I’m 31. I’m getting up there and near the end of my career. To be able to have competed, placed bronze against the strongest amputee field in this Paralympic sport is amazing.” (Source: Team USA)
At 32 years old, Oksana Masters became the fourth woman and sixth American to become a gold medalist in both the Winter and the Summer Paralympics when she won gold in Tokyo in both the women’s cycling time trial H4-5 event and the women’s cycling road race H5 event, with the latter being Masters’ first win in a major road race competition (pictured). Inclusive of summer and winter, Tokyo 2020 is Masters’ fifth consecutive Games, and the 10-time Paralympic medalist has now won a medal in all four of her sports – rowing, cross-country skiing, biathlon and cycling.
Quote: “I can’t believe it,” said Masters. “I’ve never won a road race in my life, and didn’t think I’d win a road race in my life. I just feel like I’m on cloud nine right now. I was so nervous. I did not trust myself. The minute that clock went, my body went on autopilot. It just doesn’t seem real.” (Source: Team USA)
For all news related to Tokyo 2020, including which Team Toyota athletes brought home Olympic and Paralympic medals, click here.
Originally published September 9, 2021