A Russian orphan raised in a foster home for 13 months, Jessica Long had no idea what her life would bring. In addition to being a 13-time gold medal-winning Paralympic champion, the tiny girl born with fibular hemimelia would encourage others to pursue their aspirations.
Long grew up in an orphanage in Irkutsk, Russia, before being adopted by her parents in 1993. A year and a half after she was adopted, she was hospitalized and eventually had both of her legs amputated.
Long praised the experience for giving him “a lot of freedom and movement.”. “However, growing up was extremely difficult. I decided at a young age that I would be unstoppable and that my legs would not be a hindrance to me.”
It was from that moment on that she refused to accept any limitations placed on her by others. She’d been doing gymnastics since she was a little girl. When she was 10, Long discovered swimming and knew she’d found her life’s work:
“I was the only swimmer on the team without legs, “she informed me, “Even though I had setbacks, my teammates were supportive and considerate throughout the process. When I reflect on my life, no one on that squad ever made fun of me or mistreated me because I was born without legs.”
Long stunned everyone by qualifying for the 2004 Athens Paralympics at the age of just 12 years old.
Long has 13 gold, six silver, and four bronze medals from the Paralympics after four appearances. In her career, she has hundreds of medals from World Championship competitions and countless world records to her credit. She didn’t, however, begin concentrating on accolades or fame as a goal.
“When I first started swimming, I had no expectations of breaking any records or winning any prizes. Those things are unique, and they certainly contribute to my journey, but I primarily like swimming for its own sake. Remembering why you started as an athlete is critical for everybody who participates in sports.
Unsinkable, her memoir serves as a vehicle for her to tell her narrative. It depicts her life both in and out of the water in vivid detail. When her tale was told during the Super Bowl in February, the entire country was moved by her tenacity.
Her ultimate goal is to keep competing for as long as her body enables her to do so. She wants to show the future generation of para-athletes that anything is possible despite the challenges they face.
“Anything is possible if you dream big enough.” “she informed me, quoting herself. “It’s inspiring to see the incredible things Paralympic athletes are doing. There are many options available, so pursue your interests, but be aware that you’ll need to be dependable and put in a lot of effort. Success is something you set for yourself.