Abby Dunkin poses for a photo at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center on Feb. 6, 2020 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Abby Dunkin, a 2016 Paralympic gold medalist in wheelchair basketball who had already been named to the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball Team, has decided to retire before those rescheduled Tokyo Games take place next summer.
“The game has changed my life,” she wrote on Twitter Tuesday night. “I’m forever grateful, but I am retiring.”
In a longer statement accompanying her post, Dunkin, 24, called it “an emotional decision that I did not take lightly,” adding: “Whether my next chapter is coaching, training or finding my place in this world, I’m ready.”
Born in Rota, Spain, but raised in New Braunfels, Texas, Dunkin discovered wheelchair basketball after a series of neurological disorders left her unable to walk.
Always an athletic kid growing up, Dunkin was able to manage the pain that stemmed from her Complex Regional Pain Syndrome until age 17, when complications from a rare nervous system disorder required her to use a wheelchair on a daily basis.
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Not long after, she discovered videos of the 2012 U.S. wheelchair basketball team competing in London, and a new passion was born.
Dunkin went on to play collegiately for the University of Texas at Arlington, where she helped the Lady Movin’ Mavs win national national titles. She also joined up with many of those U.S. players she watched from the 2012 Paralympic Games on the national team, culminating in the gold medal in Rio.
Though Dunkin continued in the sport after Rio and eventually was named to the 2020 Paralympic team, she decided this week that she would step away before her second Games.
Her full statement read:
“Wow. I did not think I would be writing this post anytime soon in my career. I'm so incredibly thankful for everything this game has brought me.
“From shooting endless shots in the driveway when I was a kid, to being on top of the podium at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, the game of basketball has always been my passion. If I have played along side you whether it be in wheelchair basketball or stand up basketball, thank you. If I have played against you, thank you. If I have shared the court with you in any way, thank you thank you. thank you. I'm forever grateful to my friends and family who have supported me since the very beginning, and have been there through everything. The game of basketball has taught me how to grow and learn in ways that I never thought possible. It has brought so many friendships from a round the globe, and has enlighten(ed) my perspective to so many different cultures around the world. I know the team headed to Tokyo 20201 will represent Team USA. with grace and grit.
“With the said, I am retiring. It’s been an emotional decision that I did not take lightly. Whether my next chapter is coaching, training, or finding my place in this world, I'm ready. #Thankyou”
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movements for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.