Team USA Resident-Athlete Series: Deja Young of Para Track and Field

By Cady Lowery | Nov. 05, 2019, 2:15 p.m. (ET)

Deja Young celebrates a gold medal in the women's 100m T47 at the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru. 

 

Get to know the athletes living at the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center, a U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Site, in Chula Vista, California, through the Team USA Resident-Athlete Series. Each month, USParalympics.org will feature one Paralympic athlete in detail, as they share their athletic and personal journeys, favorite pump-up song, goals for the future, and much more.

Get to know track athlete Deja Young, one of the many resident-athletes living and training at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center. Young will be competing at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, starting Nov. 7. 

Name: Deja Young
Sport: Track and Field
Birth date: June 10, 1996
Hometown: Mesquite, Texas
High School: Horn High School (Mesquite, Texas) ‘14
College: Wichita State University ’18, Social Work

Favorite thing about living in Chula Vista?
My favorite thing about living in Chula Vista is that I have everything I need in one spot. It’s so important for an athlete to have that access to nutrition, sports medicine and everything in between. From our training field to the cafeteria to our room - being at Chula Vista, we’re athletes 24/7. We are set up for success from the start. 

Favorite meal in the dining hall:
My favorite meal is breakfast Wednesday, which is breakfast for dinner. I mean, breakfast tastes better for dinner! 

When did you first get involved with your sport?
I have always been involved in sports, but track didn’t come along until my freshman year of high school. I grew up in Mesquite, Texas, and I played volleyball and softball. I ran track for fun in middle school, but it wasn’t something that I wanted to do even though I was good at it. When I realized that I wanted to be a collegiate athlete, I knew that I was too short to play volleyball, and full-ride college softball scholarships were rare, so track it was! 

What’s your favorite thing about your sport?
My favorite thing about the sport is how competitive it is, but at the same time, it is a close-knit family. As a Paralympian, we all have two goals. First, to be a medalist. Second, to spread the Paralympic Movement. Our love for our sport has made us all connected in the best way. 

Where is the coolest place that you’ve competed at?
The coolest place that I competed at was the 2017 world championship in London. It was the best crowd I had ever competed in front of. It showed that they love and respected the Paralympic Movement. It gave me a sense of comfort and love. 

What other sports do you like playing/watching?
I really enjoy playing recreational softball and volleyball. I enjoy watching any and all sports, honestly. My favorite pro teams are the Dallas Cowboys, and my favorite athlete, by far, is Serena Williams. 

Who is someone you look up to and consider a role model?
I look up to my mom the most. She’s so strong and has always kept her composure in all types of situations. She’s constantly supporting me in every aspect. 

If you could play another Paralympic sport, what would it be?
Another Paralympic sport that I would want to play would be sitting volleyball since I grew up playing volleyball. 

What’s your favorite pump-up song before you compete?

My pump up song changes almost every other week. This week my favorite pump up song is Mount Everest by Labrinth.

What are you most excited for this year? 
I’m considered a veteran now with this being my third world championship team. It’s been two years since my last championship, but I can honestly feel that I am a completely different athlete than what I was two years ago. I’m really excited to see what that brings out on the track.

What has been your proudest moment in your athletic career so far?
My proudest moment in my athletic career so far is being able to come back after my car accident in 2016 that left me on bed rest for three months. I came back in 2017 and won two golds in my events. That was the most pressure I had ever been under, and I wasn’t even going to compete that year. I had to basically start from scratch with my training. My mindset was that I am the only one stopping myself from my success. 

What are some of your goals for your athletic career? Outside of athletics?
I have a goal to make a difference in the community. I am huge mental health advocate, and sharing my story has become such an important part of my journey. If I can save one person’s life, that would leave me happy.