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Kym Crosby And Erik Hightower A Dynamic Duo At Home And On The Track

By Bob Reinert | June 15, 2021, 10 a.m. (ET)

Kym Crosby and Erik Hightower pose for a photo at promotional shoot before the Paralympic Games Rio 2016.

 

U.S. Paralympic Team Trials Dynamic Duos, presented by Samsung is a three-part series of stories highlighting pairs on their journey to U.S. Paralympic Team Trials and the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

 

When Paralympic medalist Kym Crosby returns home after a hard day of training on the track, she doesn’t have to relate every little detail to her spouse: He was there the whole time.

Since September 2018, Crosby has been married to fellow Para sprinter Erik Hightower. The formidable couple spend countless hours together and are — not surprisingly — each other’s biggest supporters.

“We have the same coach, so we train at the same time, but we don’t necessarily do the same workouts,” Crosby said. “We don’t actually get to train with each other, like alongside each other, but we are out on the track at the same time, which is really nice because we get to really cheer each other on … during our workouts.”

Crosby, 28, has become adept at providing motivation for Hightower at just the right time during training sessions.

“There are some times where I can tell that Erik is having maybe not so great of a practice as he wants to, and he’s getting frustrated,” Crosby said. “So, then I can walk over to him and I can … try to talk him up and remind him of his goals and what we’re both here to do. He definitely does the same thing for me, which is really nice.

“If we didn’t both do the same thing, it would just be one of us out there doing it by ourselves and then having to come home later that day and tell the other about what happened. But we both really get it, and I think that’s why it really works for us.

Crosby said the same applies to travel and competitions.

“It’s really nice that we get to travel together and see all of the same sights and experience all of it together,” she said. “It’s honestly a real blessing that we get to do this together.”

The 35-year-old Hightower said that competing with his now wife at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016 was a highlight of their relationship.

“We train four years really hard to make it to the Games,” Hightower said. “And then for both of us to be able to make it to Rio, both be able to compete at the biggest meet, basically, of our lives (was great).”

The legally blind Crosby won a bronze medal in the 100-meter and was fourth in the 400 in Rio. Hightower enjoyed the medal as much as Crosby did.

“Being able to be there and share the same joy … when she won her medal and being able to experience that with her, I think it was really cool,” Hightower said.

Hightower, a wheelchair competitor, took some good-natured ribbing from Crosby after she won her medal. The two-time Paralympian, who has yet to medal at the Games, hopes to earn one of his own in Tokyo.

“That just motivated me even more to train harder and get my own in Tokyo,” Hightower said. “I need to get my redemption. It’d be cool as a married couple to be on that medal stand.”

As much as she enjoyed winning a medal in Rio, Crosby said her favorite shared experience with Hightower was the 2017 world championships, where they were able to explore London and also took a side trip to Paris after competing.

“Which we said was kind of like our honeymoon before the wedding,” Crosby said, jokingly. “I enjoyed that trip so much because we got to not only go and experience competing with each other at world championships, but then afterwards we got to really just be together and also like away from the sport for a little bit.”

Crosby picked up a pair of bronze medals in London. She now has a total of six world championship medals. Hightower owns a gold and silver from world championship relay races.

The two athletes said they like their chances at the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials for Track and Field in Minneapolis June 17-20. 

“I feel great,” said Hightower, adding that the pandemic allowed him to train even harder. “I’m pretty confident. I feel really good going into Trials and hopefully being on that team and representing our country at another Paralympic Games.”

Crosby has finally recovered from a strained hamstring she suffered in her first meet of the season. She said she is in her best shape ever.

“I still have great strength and speed, which I’m really happy about,” Crosby said. “Going into (Trials), even though I’m coming off of an injury, I’m still feeling pretty great and pretty confident about my abilities and what I can do.”

Like other athletes, Crosby and Hightower did the best they could to maintain their fitness during the pandemic.

“It’s had its challenges, but living at the Olympic Training Center definitely, I think, made it a little easier on us because it hasn’t really put too much of a damper on our training,” Hightower said. “When COVID first hit, we all went home and just kind of waited it out and just kind of had to make do.”

As Crosby pointed out, she went home for a time while Hightower stayed in Southern California. 

“We were apart for a few months, actually,” Crosby said. “It was hard but also probably good at the same time because (we heard) how a lot of couples were really butting heads being home and around each other a lot.”

Now they are back together and focused on Trials and the Games ahead.

“I’m really confident and happy, and I’m chasing that gold medal, for sure,” Crosby said. “I don’t want to be looking up at anybody (on the podium) this time.”

Bob Reinert

Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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