Lex Gillette with guide Wesley Williams running in the men's 100-meter T11 preliminaries at the Paralympic Games London 2012 on Sept. 7, 2012 in London.
Lex Gillette and guide Wes Williams, track and field
Gillette is returning to the Paralympic Games for the fifth time, his fourth with Williams as his guide. The pair have had a lot of success, winning three long jump silver medals in a row heading into Tokyo. This could be the last chance for the duo to earn that elusive gold medal, as the 39-year-old Williams has said this may be his final Paralympic Games.
“Lex definitely has his sights on 2024,” Williams said to TeamUSA.org in March. “I don’t know if I can go for another four years. I would love to see him pursue that, but I think this may be my last go-around.”
Unlike in sprinting — which Gillette formerly competed in at the Games — Williams doesn’t run alongside Gillette. He stands near the sand pit, clapping and calling out to Gillette. He’ll then ensure Gillette stays on a straight line before leaping into the sand.
Brad Snyder (L) and guide Greg Billington (R) competing in a paratriathlon event.
Brad Snyder and guide Greg Billington, paratriathlon
Brad Snyder is used to using guides at the Paralympic Games, but this will be his first time as a Paralympic triathlete. Snyder owns five gold swimming medals across two previous Paralympic Games. He made the switch to paratriathlon in 2018 and scored his first elite victory earlier this year. For his first Paralympic triathlon, Snyder will have the help of an Olympic triathlete in Billington, who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Just like in track and field, paratriathletes must have a guide who is also an elite athlete that can keep up. But paratriathlete guides have even more responsibilities, guiding and keeping their athlete on track in the swim and run while joining them on a tandem bike for the cycling portion.
Guide Andy Potts (L) running with Kyle Coon (R) during competition.
Kyle Coon and guide Andy Potts, paratriathlon
Snyder isn’t the only one with an Olympian for a guide as Coon is teamed up with Potts, a 2004 Olympian and 2007 Pan American Games gold medalist. The duo has been working together since August 2020, and the 30-year-old Coon is still relatively new to the sport himself, having started in 2014. He earned his first international victory in May and has two World Triathlon Para Series medals on his resume.
“He’s one of the best American triathletes of all-time. He’s ridiculously strong, and it’s like having a coach with me every single step of the way,” Coon said of his partner.
Amy Dixon and guide Kirsten Sass react after finishing first place in the women's PTVI division during the Toyota USA Paratriathlon National Championships on July 20, 2019 in Long Beach, California.
Amy Dixon and guide Kirsten Sass, paratriathlon
Dixon is a nine-time World Paratriathlon Event medalist and 2019 national champion making her Paralympic debut at the age of 45. Dixon has competed internationally since 2014 and was previously a swimmer before losing her sight at the age of 22. Sass has been an elite triathlete as an amateur, winning age group titles in triathlon, duathlon and aquathon.
Elizabeth Baker (R) with her guide Jillian Elliot during the women's paratriathlon PT5 at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016 on Sept. 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
Elizabeth Baker and guide Jillian Elliott, paratriathlon
Baker returns to the Paralympic Games for the second time, having finished just off the podium in fourth in Rio. She also finished fourth at the 2019 world championships and is a seven-time World Paratriathlon Event medalist. Elliott was formerly on the U.S. national team and has competed on the World Triathlon Series circuit.