Trenton Merrill celebrates after winning bronze in the men's T64 long jump at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Sept. 1, 2021 in Tokyo.
Trenten Merrill and Cheri Madsen secured bronze medals on Wednesday during night six of track and field competition at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Merrill jumped 7.08 to secure his bronze medal in the men’s T64 long jump. Germany’s Markus Rehm became a three-time gold medalist with a jump of 8.18. France’s Dimitri Pavade earned silver, jumping 7.39 for a personal best.
“It’s one of those days where you roll with the punches,” Merrill said. “That was a tough day for me. I fell on one of the jumps, and I had to mentally get back in my zone. It was a challenge for me to get back to my flow state, but I started picking it up and going better and better as we were going on. Honestly I wish we had some more jumps because I felt like I could have gotten a different color medal. But I’m honored, I’m thankful, and I’m healthy.”
The American came into the event looking to improve on his fourth-place finish in Rio 2016. Despite a series of strong performances leading to the Games, the road to the podium has was paved with challenges for two-time Paralympian Trenton Merrill.
In addition to navigating the training during COVID-19 pandemic, a back injury sidelined Merrill from training in the leadup to the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. The delayed Games became a blessing in disguise.
“I looked at that as a time to really work on myself,” Merrill said. “It was a lot of rehab, a lot of work on my own trying to keep myself accountable. No one was going to do it for me. I could’ve just sat on the couch but I decided to work really hard and stay really motivated.”
One of the ways Merrill has stayed grounded throughout the Games is by having fun with his teammates Nick Mayhugh and Hunter Woodhall. The trio have been documenting their time together in Tokyo across their social pages.
“It’s really cool to hang out with Nick and Hunter,” Merrill said. “They’re really laid back, and they’re younger guys too so for me it’s cool hanging out with them because they remind me of what I was like when I was their age. They’re just goofy guys. They just want to have fun, but also they’re gamers. They want to come out here and they want to compete… I think for me I knew that I wanted to be really lighthearted and laugh when I’m not competing.”
As basking in the glow of earning his first Paralympic medal, Merrill’s focus is on his next race – the 200 meters. He wasn’t sure if he was going to make the team in the 200 so he’s treated the event like he approached the last year – a blessing in disguise.
“I wanna get out there and fight. I know that I’ve got some great competition so for me I’m just going to stay in my lane,” Merrill said. “I believe in myself, and I think it’s possible for me to go out there and get a medal. It’s going to take a lot of fight. So for me I just want to go out there and run my heart out, stay in my lane and run my own race and that’s what I’m going to do.”