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Tokyo Paralympics: Baltimore’s Jessica Long wins gold in 100-meter butterfly for 29th career Paralympic medal

Baltimore native Jessica Long took gold in the 100-meter butterfly on Friday at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Baltimore native Jessica Long took gold in the 100-meter butterfly on Friday at the Tokyo Paralympics. (Mark Reis/Mark Reis)

A standout Tokyo Games continues for one of Baltimore’s most accomplished athletes.

Jessica Long won a gold medal in the women’s 100-meter butterfly at the Tokyo Paralympics on Friday, her sixth medal in Tokyo and 29th of her career.

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Long, who finished first with a time of 1 minute, 9.87 seconds, is the second-most decorated U.S. Paralympian of all-time. Only retired swimmer Trischa Zorn has more medals with 55, the most in Paralympics history.

At age 29, she has as many Paralympic medals as the number of years she’s been alive.

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“I talk to myself – I know that sounds crazy but it’s a lot of positive self-talk that even when I am tired, I am just reminding myself that you’ve trained tired before, you’ve worked hard when you’re tired,” said Long, who made her Paralympics debut in Athens at age 12. “That’s what it’s all about — to step up when you’re tired.”

It’s the 16th career gold medal for Long, who passed her idol Erin Popovich with her performance at these Games.

“The only thing I told my family — I said I just want to bring home a gold medal, that would be considered a success for me,” said Long, a bi-lateral amputee who was adopted from a Siberian orphanage by a Baltimore couple. “Also [Popovich], who has been one of my idols and heroes all my life, to surpass her in the medal count — her gold medal count was 14 — that’s just wild, I never thought I would do that.”

Team USA’s Jessica Long took gold in the 100m butterfly Sept. 3, 2021, at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Team USA’s Jessica Long took gold in the 100m butterfly Sept. 3, 2021, at the Tokyo Paralympics. (Mark Reis/Mark Reis)

In Tokyo, Long won gold in the 200-meter individual medley and helped the United States win gold in the women’s 4x100-meter relay. She took silver in the 100-meter breaststroke.

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“Day 10 is challenging,” she said. “I truly have always said the Paralympics are for those who are super-mentally tough and that is what I tried to channel today because I was tired and hurting and sore, but I love swimming and I love to race and that is what I tried to do tonight.”

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