Roderick Townsend competes in men's high jump - T45 during the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 29, 2021 in Tokyo.
TOKYO — Two-time Paralympian Roderick Townsend breaks his world record while Team USA had its most prolific day in track and field yet with eight medals.
Day three at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium was a little crazy and a lot amazing — kind of like the shade of blue atop Townsend’s head. The defending gold medalist in the men’s high jump T47 lept over his world record on Sunday night to go 2.15-meters. That height also became a new Paralympic record after setting the last one in Rio (2.09 meters).
Equally exciting for the 29-year-old from Stockton, California, was the fact that he did it with his teammate and protégé by his side.
Newcomer Dallas Wise tied for the silver with India’s Nishad Kumar at his first event in Tokyo. Their height of 2.06 meters set a new area record.
“This the best feeling in the world. Money can’t pay for this,” Wise said after competing in his first Paralympic Games, giving a lot of the credit to the man best known as “The Jump Addict.”
“I love this guy right here,” he said, patting Townsend on the shoulder. “He helped me so much. And to be under his wing is a blessing. It means a lot to me.”
The feelings are mutual.
“He is a very talented young man,” Townsend said about his younger teammate. “He has so much potential. I see so much of myself in him. It meant a lot to just be able to be out here with him.”
The current world record and Paralympic record holder is no stranger to training others, having worked as the jumping coach at Northern Arizona University — where he was also getting his master’s degree. His wife, Tynita Butts-Townsend, has also benefitted from his expertise.
“My wife just jumped a few weeks ago at the Olympics,” he said. She also competed in the high jump but was unable to advance beyond the qualification round.
“She had the pink hair, so I had to come with the blue hair,” he laughed. “Just having a little bit of fun.”
Townsend and Wise will both go on to compete in the long jump on Tuesday; another event Townsend dominated in Rio.
“We’ve got less than 48 hours before we’re out here long jumping,” Townsend said, “so we’re just trying to enjoy these moments but knowing that there’s more to come.”
The second gold of the night belonged to two-time Paralympian Daniel Romanchuk, who went from a 13th place finish in Rio in the 400m T54 to take tonight’s top spot. Thailand’s Athiwat Paeng-Nuea — who had set a new Paralympic record in the morning prelims (44.87) — looked as if he was going to secure the gold, too. But in the final 25 meters, Romanchuk pushed past — crossing just one-hundredths of a second ahead in a time of 45.72.
The 23-year-old from Baltimore, Maryland, won’t get any time to rest, either. Having already raced the 5000m, he has a full schedule in Tokyo. “I’m just trying to take it one race at a time,” he said about his six events in total. “I’ve got everything from the 100 to the marathon to go.”
His fourth-place finish the night prior was his first Paralympic wheelchair final ever.