Lex GilletteNicholas MayhughRaymond Martin


by Michael Kinney

Nick Mayhugh celebrates at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 27, 2021 in Tokyo. (Photo by Getty)
TOKYO — Day one of track and field at Tokyo Stadium finished with some early hardware for Team USA.

The U.S. men put down serious times on the track as early as prelims on Friday morning. The first-time Paralympian, 25-year-old Nick Mayhugh, set a world record and a new Paralympic record in the 100m T37 before the evening finals with a time of 10.97.  

"I honestly didn't feel like I ran my two best races," Mayhugh said about his early morning runs. "I know there's a lot more left in the tank, so I'm just excited to run again."

Later in finals, the Fairfax, Virginia beat everyone and his record from earlier that morning in an impressive 10.95. 

New to Para track — starting less than two years ago — Mayhugh said this win means everything to him. "It's changed my life," he said. "It's everything I've worked for in the last year, and a half came down to today and this competition. I finally feel like I've proved myself in the world of track and field.

"When I initially got here, no one knew my name, and now when I leave, everybody will know my name."

Mayhugh is not new to Para sports, having played Para 7-a-side football at the international level and was part of the U.S. team that won bronze at the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru. It was there where he inquired about joining the track team.  

"Football is my first love. It's second nature to me, so to try to learn this entire sport in a year and a half is completely insane," he said. "But I'm here now. And I know I can still run a lot faster and be a lot better, so I'm just excited for that opportunity. I'm going to be here as long as the sport will have me."
Lex Gillette competes at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 27, 2021 in Tokyo. (Photo by Getty)
The new world recorder holder will still have the 200m T37 and 400m T37 left to race. But for tonight, he said, "I want to enjoy this. But it's back to work tomorrow."

Getting back to work is something the current world recorder holder in the long jump T11, Lex Gillette, has become known for. The five-time Paralympian has won the silver medal in the same event for the past five Games. His goal for Tokyo was to bring home the gold. 

After a foul in his first jump, he finished off with an impressive 6.17 mark. His record as the current world record holder with a jump of 6.73 — that he made in 2014 — is still intact, but China's Dongdong Di grabbed the gold with a leap of 6.47. 

"All in all, I left it all out there," the 36-year-old said. "I can't look at anything and say, 'Oh, I didn't do this or I didn't do that.

"It's always good to get on the podium, even though I fell short of my goal. But anything that means a lot to you, you continue to work at it and push forward until you achieve it."

As a seasoned pro, he's nowhere ready to throw in the towel yet.

"Only three more years until Paris — I'll be in Paris. I'm going for the gold again."

Another silver medal went to 27-year-old Raymond Martin, who lined up against two of his Team USA teammates in the Men's 400m T52 final. The three-time Paralympian's impressive power to the line earned him a time of 55.59 and a season-best time. It was a time that would have broken the Paralympic record, but Japan's Tomoki Sato squeezed by to take the gold at 55.39.
Raymond Martin competes at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 27, 2021 in Tokyo. (Photo by Getty)
"It feels great," Martin said about his silver. "I knew it was going to be a close race. It was much closer than I expected it to be."
His next race will be the 1500m T52 in two days. He will also race the 100m T52, where he will look to add to his already eight Paralympic medals.
Just missing the podium was Gianfranco Iannotta, who crossed in fourth, putting down a time of 1:00.59. Isaiah Rigo, unfortunately, ended up with a D.Q. 
Making their Paralympic debuts were two Team USA athletes.
Tanner Wright raced in his first Games event in the 100m — T47. The 24-year-old from Fort Worth, Texas, started training track as a way to cross-train for football. The college kicker and track athlete finished his first of two races in Tokyo with a seventh-place finish and a time of 11.21. He will compete again in the 400m — T47 the following Friday. 
Fellow first-time Paralympian Jaleen Roberts, 22, crossed the line in her debut event, the 200m — T37, in sixth place and a time of 28.02. "Jumpin' Jay," as she is known — won four golds at the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima — and will have another chance to win hardware when she competes in the long jump later in the week.
Track and field events will continue for the next nine days and will conclude on the Closing Ceremony day. 
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020? Visit TeamUSA.org/Tokyo-2020-Paralympic-Games to view the medal table and results.
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