U.S. Paralympics News Paralympian Grace No...

Paralympian Grace Norman Reflects On The NCAA Season Cancellation, Tokyo Games Postponement

By Cady Lowery | April 28, 2020, 7:06 p.m. (ET)

Grace Norman celebrates her medal at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2021

Grace Norman earned a gold and bronze medal at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016.


Already a two-time Paralympic medalist before she even stepped onto Cedarville University’s campus as a freshman, Grace Norman entered 2020 thinking this was supposed to be her last hurrah as a collegiate runner and paratriathlete. She’d competed for the Yellowjackets for three years and was looking forward to a final senior season. In many ways, this year contains a lot of finality for Norman. It just won’t end the way she had hoped it would. 

She was preparing for a USA Triathlon race in Florida when she learned the event had been canceled just a day before she was set to compete. Norman thought she had at least one race left before the season took pause. 

“They told us the first race would still happen and that we’d be able to qualify for the U.S. Paralympic Team,” Norman said. “I was looking forward to just one more race.”

That race never happened, and soon after, she learned her final indoor track season was canceled, creating more frustration. 

“At first it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen,” Norman said. “We thought there was no way the NCAA would cancel. Then as school started going online, it became more real that it could happen and that we would not have a senior season.”

After her final track season was canceled, the Paralympic Games were postponed. Everything she was looking forward to this year seemed to be taken from her so quickly. At first, Norman felt an overwhelming amount of frustration about the entire experience. 

“That reaction from the Games being canceled maybe wouldn’t have led to the same reaction from me if it wasn’t on top of everything else that had happened. For me, there were a lot of unknowns. I didn’t have a track season. I didn’t know when the Games were happening. I had to figure out my life – where I’ll live, work, train and how to proceed for the next year. It was frustrating for about a week and a half.”

Like every race, she took all the news in stride. Now over a month since she first learned about all the cancellations and postponements, she’s grateful for her past experience and hopeful that the year only fuels bigger and better things. 

“After processing everything and taking it all in, I’m actually thankful to have this extra year,” Norman said. “This was a big year to begin with. I’m graduating from college and finishing nursing school. When I’m not in school or working, I can finish this year with limited distractions. For me, I see it as a benefit where I can fully focus on being the best I can be in a year.”

It was a joy for her to be on her college team, and she was devastated to lose this time with her teammates. Some of her teammates are taking another year of school, and she commends the NCAA for offering another year of eligibility. However, Norman has decided to end her collegiate career, choosing to shift her focus to 2021. She’ll miss running with her college team, knowing that experience was important from the start.

Norman is set to graduate from Cedarville University this May. As for what’s next, she isn’t sure in the immediate future. With over a year until Tokyo, she’ll continue to train and looks forward to competing next summer. 

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Grace Norman