Athlete Spotlight: Jessica Long
Jessica Long is preparing to compete in what would be her third Paralympic Games this summer in London. She already has nine Paralympic medals to her name but has no plans of stopping there. Should she qualify, she plans to compete in seven individual events and two relays in London. Like her Olympic friend and fellow swimmer Michael Phelps, Long also hails from Baltimore. She has been living and training at the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, however, for about a year.
When Long was 12, she was not expected to make the U.S. team for the Paralympic Games in Athens, but she pulled off a surprise and made it. Not only did she end up qualifying, but she also ended up winning three gold medals that summer. Four years later in Beijing, she captured four golds, a silver and a bronze.
Bet you didn’t know this: Long was born in Siberia and adopted by an American family when she was 13 months old. She is one of six children, including a brother who also was born in Russia.
Claim to fame: A nine-time Paralympic swimming medalist (including seven gold medals), Long is the first Paralympian to win the coveted Sullivan Award, which is given to the top amateur athlete in the United States. She was the youngest member of the U.S. Paralympic Team when she swam in 2004 in Athens at the age of 12
Sport: Paralympic swimming