Jaleen Roberts competing in the T37 long jump finals at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships on Nov. 10, 2019 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Jaleen Roberts soared to her second straight long jump silver medal in the T37 category Sunday at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Roberts, a 20-year-old jumper and sprinter from Kent, Washington, earned silver in the long jump at her world championship debut in London two years ago. In Dubai this weekend, the ParaSport Spokane club competitor looked close to her top form, surging to 4.81 meters on her sixth and final jump.
Roberts was happy to add another medal to her resume, but also came out of the event with some room for improvement as she strives toward making her Paralympic debut at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“I thought it was OK all things considering,” Roberts said, “I think that my takeoff was good every jump, but it was just a matter of getting on that board, having consistency in my approaches, but it’s all right, just gives me things to work on before Tokyo 2020.”
China’s Wen Xiaoyan won gold by setting a new world record of 5.22 meters on her first jump, beating her own world record set in August by .04 meters. With a season’s best 4.45, Poland’s Marta Piotrowska took the bronze.
Download the Team USA app today to keep up with Para track and field all your favorite sports, plus access to videos, Olympic and Paralympic team bios, and more.
Seeing a world record set was even more motivating for Roberts.
“(Setting a world record) was my goal for this meet,” said Roberts. “But that’s all right, just gives me something else to look forward to for next year.”
Roberts was born with cerebral palsy after suffering a stroke at birth. Her condition impairs muscle coordination but didn’t stop her from getting involved with track and field as a high schooler, where she met coaches who encouraged her talent.
Her big break came in 2017, when she made an impression at her first Desert Challenge Games. At her first worlds the same year, she collected three medals: silver in the long jump and bronzes in the 100- and 200-meter events, setting American records in the long jump and 200. She’ll compete in both the 100 and 200 later this week.
Nine days shy of her 21st birthday on Nov. 19, Roberts, who studies health and physical education at Eastern Washington University, believes there’s more to come. Becoming a Paralympian is at the forefront of her mind.
“The thought of (becoming a Paralympian) is pretty exciting,” Roberts said. “Since I joined in 2017, that’s all I’ve had my goals set towards. It came up so quickly, like it seems like it was just 2017 like yesterday, so I’m excited.”
Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.