Her Paralympic Career
In Athens, Jessica Long had been the youngest US Paralympic athlete to ever compete. There, she earned her very first gold medal in 100m freestyle, simultaneously breaking numerous records as youngest US gold medalist and earning not only her initial gold medal, but another two as well in 400m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle relay respectively.
"I remember showing up behind those blocks, just thinking to myself 'I did not come here to get second,'” Four years later, and she was behind those very same blocks in Beijing at the 2008 Paralympic Games. Not keen to lose her streak, she tripled her collection of medals: four gold medals in 400m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m individual medley, and 100m butterfly; a silver in 100m backstroke, and a bronze in 100m breaststroke. In 2012, she won eight medals total, five gold, two silver, and one bronze in London; in 2016 she won five total, one gold, three silver, and one bronze.
Finally, we reach the current year, where tensions were high after the 2020 Paralympic Games were postponed to 2021. Long landed in Tokyo with the same mindset that propelled her to world-record gold-medalist status, and that mindset paid off. Her fifth Paralympic Games overall, Long netted six medals total this year: three gold in 200m individual medley, 4x100m medley relay, and 100m butterfly; two silver in 400m freestyle and 100m breaststroke, and one bronze in 100m backstroke.