U.S. Paralympics Tra... Features Although Only 21, De...

Although Only 21, Desmond Jackson Already Feels Like A Veteran

By Sheridan Powell | Oct. 09, 2020, 5:32 p.m. (ET)

Desmond Jackson competes during the Men's 100m T63 Final race at the IPC World Para Athletics Championships 2019 Dubai on Nov. 15, 2019 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

On some of the world’s largest stages, you could often find Desmond Jackson finding a quiet room to cram in some homework after competitions. While his teammates were celebrating or hanging out after world championships, Jackson was often finishing up school work or studying for a test. 

That was 2016. Now, almost five years later, Jackson feels like a veteran. 

And in a lot of ways, he is. Jackson competed at his first track meet at 10 years old, and from there he never looked back. 

“I’ve been an amputee pretty much all my life,” Jackson explained. “As a kid I wanted to still be active, I loved sports. I really did about every sport in the book, I think.” 

He played basketball, soccer, baseball and rode horses before he decided that track and field was the one. But for Jackson, the realization was instantaneous. 

“The first track meet I went to, I think I competed in seven or eight events and I broke seven or eight different age group records. It was absolutely mind blowing and so unexpected. But from that moment we figured, why not? I knew if I put in the work I could get to that highest level.” 

Jackson made sure to mention how welcoming and helpful the other members of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Team were. While he was overwhelmed and trying to take it all in, they made sure he remained focused and ready to compete. 

“I think the Opening Ceremony was that moment where it really all hit me where I was. I saw the fireworks go off and could see all the different countries that were being represented, and I just had head-to-toe goosebumps,” Jackson smiled. “It was just a moment where I was so honored to be in that arena.” 

I saw the fireworks go off and could see all the different countries that were being represented, and I just had head-to-toe goosebumps

Thankfully for Jackson, the postponement of the Paralympic Games and facilities closing didn’t have too much of an impact on his training. 

“Over the quarantine period, I used a field that’s near my house for almost three months. Sure, it was a little different, but I’m used to grass training so it really all worked out,” he explained. 

The important thing for Jackson through the duration of quarantine and social distancing was keeping in touch with his family and allowing himself time to enjoy the unexpected time. He credited his support group for helping him remain grounded and focused, even from afar, as he continued to train. 

“I’ve also had more time for some hobbies. I love to read and paint, so I’ve been able to do both of those things,” he smiled. “The painting is…coming along. It’s not some of my best work but it's coming along. I’m having fun just learning and trying to get better at it.” 

While spending time on old and new hobbies, Jackson admits that he’s anxious to compete again. 

“I’ve been training hard these last six months and I’m just ready to compete at this point. I’m ready to go, and I know that my hard work is going to pay off and my performance should be good. “ 

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Desmond Jackson

Track and Field