Lora Webster celebrates victory after winning the Women's Sitting Volleyball gold match at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Sept. 05, 2021 in Chiba, Japan.
Lora Webster competed at her fifth Paralympic Games in Tokyo earlier this month, and her second while five months pregnant.
The 35-year-old middle blocker on the U.S. women’s sitting volleyball team had six points on two kills, three blocks and an ace in the team’s four-set gold-medal victory over China, all while pregnant with her fourth child.
“We may have had 13 people out there,” Webster said. “This baby bump was a huge part of it for me, and the child’s going to have great show-and-tell stories to share about it.”
The Phoenix native is now a five-time Paralympic medalist, having also been a part of the U.S. squad that won bronze in 2004, silver in 2008 and 2012 and gold in 2016. In 2012, she was also expecting but kept her pregnancy secret from the team at the time.
“I know how to compete pregnant. My body knows what to do. I know how to make sure that I'm protecting (the) baby,” she said during the Tokyo tournament.
“With my first pregnancy, I had to stop playing because we had a lot of scares and the risk just wasn't worth it. That was a really hard choice for me to give up that dream, to fulfill the other one. So I know that I'm very fortunate to be able to have both right now, and that's not something I take for granted.”
The U.S. women’s sitting volleyball team arrived in Japan two weeks later than originally planned due to COVID-19 exposure back home and could not train together. Two players from the original roster had to be replaced for health reasons.
After losing to its archival and three-time Paralympic champions China in three sets in the preliminary round, Team USA fired back when it mattered most in the title game. The U.S. defended its title from Rio and kept its streak alive of medaling in every Paralympic women’s sitting volleyball tournament that has been contested since the sport debuted on the program back in 2004. U.S. women’s volleyball left Tokyo making a statement, having claimed at least one gold medal in all three disciplines: Olympic indoor, Olympic beach and Paralympic sitting.