Nick Taylor and David Wagner won a third consecutive Paralympic Games gold medal on Sept. 5, 2012.
Nick Taylor was one serve down, 4-5, trying to stay in the second set.
He started his service motion and tossed the ball up ― with his feet.
“It’s all I had,” he explained. “I started playing tennis at 14 and it’s what I’ve done from the beginning.”
Apparently 18 years of practice makes perfect.
Taylor and doubles partner David Wagner 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) on Sept. 5, 2012, a victory that would eventually lead them to be named the United States Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Team of the Year.
Taylor 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 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 from the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, where the quad doubles competition debuted, and Beijing 2008.
"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.”
The title didn’t come easy; they had to earn it.
Afterward, there was no celebration for the team, as they prepared for face each other in the singles event the following day. Wagner, who led the matchup 60-7 at that point, was victorious once more.
“We do this a lot,” Taylor said. “We play each other a lot, so we go out there and we are still friends and family and brothers. We know that going in, but we both want to win so we give it everything we’ve got."
Wagner eventually claimed the silver medal with Taylor taking third.
Other action from Sept. 5, 2012:
- After U.S. athletes won five medals in track cycling, Team USA nearly matched that total on the road, with four medals in the morning races of road cycling’s opening day, including gold medals from Meg Fisher and Allison Jones. Joseph Berenyi won the silver medal in the men’s individual C3 time trial, completing his set of medals from the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He won gold and bronze on the track. In the women's individual C5 time trial, Kelly Crowley won bronze.
- Following a four medal performance in the morning, the U.S. Paralympic Cycling Team added three medals in the afternoon to close out the first day of the road cycling competition with seven total medals. The U.S. cyclists won five medals in all track events combined. Muffy Davis (Salt Lake City, Utah) won gold in the Individual H1-2 Time Trial. Monica Bascio (Evergreen, Colo.) won silver in the Individual H3 Time Trial and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Oz Sanchez (San Diego, Calif.) won bronze in the Individual H4 Time Trial.
- It was another big night in the pool for the U.S. Paralympic Swim Team as it collected five more medals: two gold, one silver and two bronze. The team was again led by Jessica Long who collected her fourth gold medal and sixth overall medal of these Games, this time in the 200 meter IM (SM8). After breaking the Paralympic record in the morning prelims with a time of 2:40.42, Long went even faster tonight with a time of 2:37.09. Also claiming gold tonight was first-time Paralympian Ian Silverman who swam in one of the more hotly contested events of the night, the 400m freestyle. After taking the lead at the 200m mark, Silverman was overtaken at the 250m mark before again taking the lead at the 300m mark and not looking back.
- Already a gold medalist in the women’s 400m (T54), Tatyana McFadden dominated the 800m. She burst onto the track in the women’s 800m, dominating the entire race, finishing in 1.47.01 almost three seconds ahead of the second place finisher Edith Wolfe of Switzerland who turned in a time of 1.49.87. Josh George captured the bronze in the 800m T53 with a time of 1.41.50 while Jessica Galli took the bronze in the women’s race.
- The U.S. Paralympic Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team became one game closer to achieving its medal dreams after beating Germany in the North Greenwich Arena, putting the team just one win away from a medal for the first time in 12 years. Team USA beat Germany by a score of 57-46 and benefited from a balanced scoring attack which included 10 points each from Josh Turek, Steve Serio and Paul Schulte and another nine points from Jason Nelms.
- The U.S. women dominated in their sitting volleyball semifinal on Wednesday at ExCel, crushing Ukraine in three sets (25-14, 25-13, 25-19) to move on to the final against China. Heather Erickson led Team USA in scoring, going 11 for 14 in spikes, and Monique Burkland was a solid defender with four successful blocks in five attempts.
To commemorate the one year anniversary of the London 2012 Paralympic Games,USParalympics.org will look back on the best performances of the Games through Sept. 9.