Jessica Long Wins Gold to Capture Her 25th Career Paralympic Games Medal
by Matt Whewell
TOKYO — Jessica Long (Baltimore, Maryland) added to her Paralympic Games accolades by picking up her 14th career gold medal and 25th overall medal with a dominating performance in the women’s 200-meter individual medley SM8 during the fourth night of racing in the Tokyo Aquatic Center.
The five-time Paralympian and most decorated active athlete at the Paralympics was the first to touch the wall first at every 50-meter split en route to a 2:41.49 finish. The win tonight marks her fourth consecutive gold medal in this event and her second medal in Tokyo following a bronze in the 100-meter backstroke S8.
In the same event, Paralympic rookie Haven Shepherd (Carthage, Missouri) impressed in her Paralympic Games debut final earning a top-five finish. The 18-year-old dropped nearly five seconds off her morning swim and stopped the clock at 3:03.59 for a fifth-place finish.
Collecting another top-five finish for Team USA is two-time Paralympic medalist Robert Griswold (Freehold, N.J.). The gold medalist in the men’s 100-meter backstroke S8 finished fourth with a time of 2:24.97 in the men’s 100-meter individual medley SM8.
Team USA’s first medal from Saturday night came courtesy of two-time Paralympian Sophia Herzog (Fairplay, Colorado). Herzog, who set an Americas record earlier in the day, touched the wall in 1:36.06 for the bronze medal in the women's 100-meter breaststroke SB6. It was her second career Paralympic medal in this event.
Leanne Smith (Salem, Massachusetts) in her first career Paralympic Games final rounded out the top-five in the women’s 150-meter individual medley SM4 by finishing in 3:07.07.
Another finals swimmer was five-time Paralympian Rudy Garcia-Tolson (Colorado Springs, Colorado), who took sixth place in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke SB6 after turning in a time of 1:24.64.
Other notable races during the morning portion of the fourth day include Zach Shattuck (Mt. Airy, Maryland) who finished the men’s 100-meter breaststroke SB6 in 1:26.01 for ninth place overall. McClain Hermes (Dacula, Georgia) placed 11th in the women's 100m backstroke S11 with a 1:29.11. Jamal Hill (Inglewood, California) made his Paralympic Games debut and finished 16th with a 57.70 in the men’s 100-meter freestyle S10.
The halfway mark of racing continues tomorrow with the preliminary heats scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. EST and finals at 4 a.m. EST. All races will be livestreamed through NBCOlympics.com, on Peacock and through the NBC Sports app. A full schedule of events is available here.
TEAM USA MEDALS – DAY FOUR (2)
- Jessica Long (women’s 200m individual medley SM8)
- Sophia Herzog (women’s 100m breaststroke SB6)
I am so happy. That was a hard race and it's been a hard five years. To come home representing my country on the podium is absolutely incredible.
We really focused on getting underwater for my pullouts. Since I’m the lightest one in the field, I get thrown around easily. We focused on getting under everybody's wake in the turns and trying to be one of the first girls to the wall so I’m ahead of everybody’s wake.
I’m over the moon. I’m just so happy. To have a four-peat in the 200 IM, that’s what I’ve been dreaming of coming into these Games. I’m really proud of myself.
I moved out to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Training Center about a year ago. I made that very big sacrifice to be away from my family and my husband just to have this type of performance and I think it’s paid off. To be able to train at altitude, swim long course and to be around an amazing group of people, I’m just really thankful.
I just wanted to go out and do my best. I’m just a person. I like to have fun, and I definitely had fun that swim. Going into it I knew I needed to go out fast, and that’s what I did, so I’m happy with my race.
The veterans all told me the same thing - go out and have fun. There’s nothing like your first finals. By the time you get to finals you can tell yourself you’ve made it. Even in prelims, don’t count yourself short if you didn’t make the finals. That’s an accomplishment in itself, and I’m so happy to be here.