Allysa Seely reacts after winning the women's PTS2 triathlon at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 28, 2021 in Tokyo.
Team USA stormed to gold in two of the four paratriathlon events on Saturday at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, as Allysa Seely defended her Paralympic title in the women’s PTS2 race and U.S. Navy veteran Brad Snyder, already a seven-time Paralympic medalist in swimming, won gold in the men’s PTVI race.
Seely made up nearly a minute and a half in the first three laps of the run at Odaiba Marine Park to take the lead entering the final lap of her race and grab gold in 1:14:03. The Glendale, Arizona, native persevered through multiple health challenges and scares over the past year, having been diagnosed with endocarditis (inflammation) and blood clots in her heart, making her second gold all the more significant.
“Five years ago still feels like a fairytale, and today I’m just so grateful for the opportunity to be here and to race,” Seely, 32, said. “I said the day I won in Rio that a gold here was the goal, and there have been so many ups and downs since then, that to pull off that goal is incredible.
“I want to be able to dedicate this gold medal to all of those who said they can’t, including the Afghan Paralympians whose dreams could not be fulfilled.”
Hailey Danz of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, who had led for most of the race, crossed the finish line 55 seconds behind Seely to capture her second straight silver in the event and give Team USA the one-two punch on the podium.
Danz (nee Danisewicz) led the race from the first 5 kilometer mark in the bike up through the third lap of the run, at which point Seely — a 2016 Paralympian in track and field as well as triathlon — passed her.
“We have elevated the bar so much in the last five years. We finished 10 minutes faster today than we did in Rio, which is pretty incredible for the sport,” Danz said. “We’re training partners at home in Colorado, so today felt like another day at the office. My goal was to tear up the bike course and create as much of a gap as I could on there, and that went really well.”
U.S. Army veteran Melissa Stockwell, a mother of two competing in her third Paralympics, finished fifth in 1:21:25 after taking bronze in 2016. Earlier in the week, Stockwell was the Opening Ceremony flagbearer for Team USA along with wheelchair rugby player Chuck Aoki. She crossed the Tokyo finish line with her arms up in jubilation, soaking in the moment just six weeks after her training was put on hold due to a bike crash that resulted in a broken back.
“It’s a journey to get here, and sometimes the journey is the destination,” Stockwell said, fighting back tears. “I’m so happy and honored to be here and proud of my teammates. I know my family back home is cheering like crazy, and I can feel it.”