Alumnus Robert Griswold (top left) after winning the 100-meter butterfly, alumnus Evan Austin (bottom left) after winning bronze in the 400-meter freestyle, and Noah Malone (upper right) winning his heat in the 100 meters. Malone went on to win silver in the event.
PARALYMPICS (CONTINUED) “When I lost my vision, I wish I had somebody to look up to,” Malone said during an NBC interview. “My biggest goal is to inspire people. This is a great platform to do so.” Malone started the Paralympics by winning his heat in the 100 meters, his strongest event. In the final, he went up against world record holder Salum Kashafali of Norway, and finished second for the silver medal. Before the race, Kashafali screamed several times, something Malone said was an attempt at intimidation. Malone looked unfazed and won his first medal.
In the 400 meters, Malone won his heat in an American record time. In the final, he went out strong but Morocco’s Abdeslam Hili passed him in the stretch. Malone had his second silver medal. His final event was the 4 x 100-meter universal relay, an event with men and women with different disability classifications. Malone started the race for Team USA, giving the Americans a lead. Wheelchair athlete Tatyana McFadden crossed the finish line for a world record and decisive victory. Meanwhile, other Sycamores were also starring on the international stage. Griswold, who was born with cerebral palsy, won a gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke, setting a world record time in the process. “I worked for five years for this moment,” Griswold said. “When I touched the wall I just screamed with joy because I was so happy to do the best I could for my country.” Griswold’s second gold came in the 100-meter butterfly. Austin was born with familial spastic paraparesis, an inherited condition that causes progressive stiffness and contraction in the lower limbs. He was competing in his third Paralympics but hadn’t won a medal until he
Photo by Joe Kusumoto/USOPC.
“It means a lot,” Malone said while draped with the American flag. “It’s a great experience to be out here. Even though there are no fans (because of the pandemic), there’s still a buzz.”
took the bronze in the 400-meter freestyle. “My family has been truly indescribable throughout this whole process, especially during the pandemic by never losing belief in me,” Austin said. “They’ve given me the ability to train and pursue this dream. That all just culminated a few minutes ago with this first medal for me.” Austin followed that with a gold in the 50-meter butterfly. Malone, who turned 20 in October, has his sights set on even bigger things, including the 2024 Paralympics in Paris. “It’s just the beginning,” Malone said on NBC. “I’m going back to school at Indiana State. That’s what’s next for me — and the (World Championships) next year. Just the beginning.”