Highlighted by the London 2012 Paralympic Games, called the greatest Games ever by International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven, 2012 was a thrilling year for the Paralympic Movement in the United States and around the globe. Records were broken and legacies were made. From Dec. 20-31, USParalympics.org will unveil the Top 12 moments of 2012 for U.S. Paralympics in chronological order.
Nick Taylor was one serve down, 4-5, trying to stay in the second set of the gold medal match in the men’s quad division at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Starting the service motion, he tossed the ball up – with his feet – and kept the United States in the hunt for gold.
“It’s all I had,” he explained. “I started playing tennis at 14 and it’s what I’ve done from the beginning.”
On Sept. 5, Taylor and doubles partner David Wagner (Hillsboro, Ore.) accomplished something no one has done before in wheelchair tennis when the duo won their third consecutive gold medal in the men’s quad division. They defeated Great Britain’s Peter Norfolk and Andy Laphorne in a thrilling three-set victory (6-2, 5-6, 6-2) for the three-peat.
Taylor, who lives in Wichita, Kan., is different than most who play this sport.
He was the only player on court using a power chair, not exactly a competitive advantage in tennis, yet his consistency proved to be the difference in the match, especially the third set.
Taylor was consistently in the right place at the right time setting up his partner to charge the net and win points up off sharp angle volleys. “He just has great anticipation,” said Boaz Kramer, another player in the quad competition.
The smart shot selection earned the American pair the right to be called the most dominating quad doubles team the U.S. has ever seen. The two are as excited about this gold as their others.
"I think it feels just as good … and we appreciate it, because we have just something that no other Paralympic team has ever done,” said Wagner. “So it's a true honor and to do that with Nick is truly awesome.”
Taylor and Wagner are the only doubles team to win a Paralympic gold in the men’s quad division, which was first included in the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. In addition to their gold medal in doubles, Wagner took home a silver medal in the quad singles event and Taylor claimed the bronze.
Weeks after the conclusion of the action in London, Taylor and Wagner were named the United States Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Team of the Year.
“It came as a total shock to me,” said Wagner, a five-time Paralympic medalist. “I’m honored and feel privileged to say that we were able to be recognized for the hard work we put in and what we were able to accomplish.”
“It’s a huge honor for us,” Taylor added. “Obviously we had a great run at the Paralympics, really for the last three Paralympics. I’m also proud not only (for) what it means to David and I, but to wheelchair tennis, and for that matter, even tennis. To be recognized by the USOC is awesome.”
Jamie M. Blanchard and Paul D. Bowker contributed to this report.