Jessica Long Reflects on Her Inspiring Journey to Paralympic Gold

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| LAST UPDATE 08/26/2021

By Jessica Lopez
jessica long tokyo paralympics
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From swimming in grandma's pool to scoring Paralympic gold, Jessica Long's rise to the top has been nothing short of remarkable. The 13x Paralympic champion recently opened up about her rise to the top. And from the sounds of it? She might have won gold in Rio back in 2016, but she's also winning at life. Here's her inspiring story...

jessica long paralympic medalist
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Born in Siberia, the 29-year-old athlete's younger years were challenging, to say the least. As a baby, Long was diagnosed with fibular hemimelia. Unfortunately, the debilitating condition resulted in a lack of bones in both her feet and legs. "It was so hard, like so incredibly hard," Long recalled to Today's Jenna Bush Hager.

jessica long tokyo olympics
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Sure enough, endless operations, years, and medals later, the Paralympian has gone on to defy all odds; something 29 years in the making. “I just had… such determination to just prove to everyone that I could do it,” the medalist revealed. From nabbing gold at the Paralympic Games in Athen to dominating Rio, Beijing, and London’s Games, Long has since collected a total of 13 gold, 6 silver, and 4 bronze medals – making her the 2nd most decorated U.S. Paralympian to date.

jessica long paralympics tokyo
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But the athlete's journey is actually just getting started. As of August 24, the Paralympic superstar is in Japan competing for gold in this year's Tokyo Paralympic Games. But whether or not she walks home with yet another medal, Jessica Long is doing just fine. In fact, she couldn't be better.

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"I love the gold, and that's what I'm obviously going for," she confessed. "But if I never bring home another gold in my life? I am more than enough," Long proudly explained. "And maybe I can say that because I have won some gold. But also, like you know, if you're not enough without a gold medal, you'll never be enough with one." Safe to say, the Paralympic swimmer is already ten steps ahead of the game. And we can't wait to see what the future has in store for her...

Stay tuned.