Grewe rises in Rio to win first Paralympic medal

By Brianna Tammaro | Sept. 09, 2016, 8:32 p.m. (ET)
Sam Grewe competes in the men's T42 high jump at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on Sept. 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.


RIO DE JANEIRO – Sam Grewe (Middlebury, Indiana) stole the show on the second night of competition at Olympic Stadium, winning silver in the men’s high jump T42 on Friday evening in front of an energetic crowd.

The 18-year-old reigning world champion rose to the occasion to capture his first Paralympic medal in his Games debut.

“It definitely feels great,” Grewe exclaimed. “This has been the goal for a long time so to be here and compete the way I wanted to compete and be in this situation is really good.”

Grewe, who in 2012 lost his right leg to bone cancer, remained strong and steady throughout the competition, ultimately clearing 1.86-meters on his first attempt. Though he couldn’t reach the 1.89 mark, Grewe finished with a personal best and a medal around his neck. That medal stood for something more significant than anyone would know; it stood for a message.

“Four years ago, I was going through cancer treatment and getting my leg amputated,” he said. “I was one of those cancer kids, so I think really this event was for all those kids out there who are going through something similar; who think there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. This one is for them to show that if they persevere and keep pushing through it, they will succeed.”

Despite a strong effort in the final 50 meters, Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Maryland) came up short of gold in the women’s 100 T54 as defending Paralympic and world champion Wenjun Liu of China took the win. McFadden, the world record holder in the event, finished in 16.13 seconds with Hannah McFadden (Clarksville, Maryland) placing fourth (16.34) and Cheri Becerra-Madsen (Union, Nebraska) in fifth (16.40). McFadden, who came into Rio with the ambitious aim at seven gold medals, earned the first medal for Team USA women in track & field. She will compete next on Sunday in the 400 preliminary race.

“To get the first medal for the U.S. women is amazing,” McFadden said. “This is one of my hardest events. I’ve really had a rollercoaster ride with the 100 meters. In Beijing, I got sixth; In London, I got third and today I got silver. I’m really quite happy and am just looking forward to my next event.”

After coming in as a gold medal-contender, Jarryd Wallace (Athens, Georgia) had a disappointing finish in the men’s 100 T44 with a time of 11.16, coming in fifth as defending Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock held his crown with a time of 10.81. U.S. teammates Jerome Singleton (Irmo, South Carolina) finished just one-hundredth of a second behind Wallace in sixth while Nick Rogers (Lisbon, Maine) placed eighth in 11.33.

“There’s a lot of emotion right now,” Wallace said. “Something happened today that’s just never happened before; I ran out of gas on the track. I had a great start. Thirty meters in, I was in a great position and went to stand up and my legs just wouldn’t move. It is what it is. I just wasn’t able to make it happen today.

Other top results on Friday evening included a fifth place finish by Ayden Jent (Indianapolis, Indiana) in the men’s 100 T35 and a seventh place finish by Brian Siemann (Millstone, New Jersey).

Visit USParalympics.org/Rio2016 for more information on Team USA at the Paralympic Games, including athlete bios, schedule and live streaming. Follow the U.S. Paralympic team on social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.