Dallas Wise enters the stadium prior to competing at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. (Photo: Joe Kusumoto)
Team USA jumper Dallas Wise was running on fumes when he competed in June's World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Paris.
Wise had arrived in the French capital two days before he participated in the high jump and long jump, but he could’ve used more time to prepare — adjusting to a six-hour time difference after a trans-Atlantic flight throws everyone for a loop, including world-class athletes.
“I really only had about one hour of sleep that day,” he said.
Groggy or not, Wise excelled. He captured gold medals in the high and long jump T47, part of a 15-medal haul by Team USA. Wise’s mark of 6.77 meters in the long jump was over .40 meters farther than his nearest competitor.
Afterward Wise found himself some new fans: A group of Parisian school children who were attending the event lined up for his autograph.
“To sign those autographs and see those kids smiling was pretty awesome,” he said.
The wins were Wise’s first while competing on the world stage. Wise took silver in the high jump T46/47 last year at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, and he was fourth in the long jump in the same classification.
It’s been a whirlwind year for Wise, 21, who is a rising junior at the University of Southern California.
Shortly after his success in Tokyo, Wise decided to leave Coastal Carolina University, where he spent two seasons in the track and field program. Wise is from South Carolina and attended high school a couple hours from the Coastal campus; now he was moving across the country and joining one of the most famed college track programs around. USC products captured 21 medals at the Tokyo Olympics.
Shortly after arriving at USC in January, Wise started battling knee issues, specifically with his left knee, which is the side he jumps off from. He was sidelined for most of the spring outdoor track season.
Wise admitted that he isn’t settled in yet.
“It’s still an ongoing adjustment,” he said.
Wise’s rise in the jumping world may not be meteoric, but it’s not far off.
Wise didn’t go out for track and field until he was a high school sophomore. It was a scenario in which high school football players, like Wise, often find themselves. Football coaches urge their players to go out for track, wanting them to work on speed and agility.
Early on, one of the track coaches at Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, South Carolina, asked Wise to give the high jump a shot.
Wise said his first jump in practice was 6 feet, 6 inches. For reference his high jump mark at the 2019 South Carolina state championship meet, where he took first as a senior, was 6 feet, 8 inches.
He picked up the long jump as a junior and the triple jump as a senior.
Wise said he started taking part in Para sports in the last two years, after a college coach who saw him compete in a Coastal Carolina meet suggested he do so. Wise has Erb’s palsy, which limits arm motion.
That decision paid dividends quickly with the silver medal in Tokyo. And now he’s added those golds to the resume.
Wise gave his body a break after Paris, and he decided to skip the Para nationals last month in South Florida. He’ll likely return to competition with USC’s indoor team in early 2023, and then there are World Para Athletics Championships next June — they’re in Paris, home of Wise’s biggest triumph to date. Paris also will host the Summer Paralympics in 2024.
Wise’s main goal now is to “get faster with my jumps.” That should serve him well the next two years in Paris.
He has some lofty goals in mind for the next few years. He’s targeting top Para marks in the high jump and long jump.
“My No. 1 goal is to beat a world record,” he said.