‘Disappointed’ Lex Gillette wins first U.S. medal of Rio Paralympics

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Lex Gillette won his fourth straight Paralympic long jump silver medal, but he was oh-so close to gold.

The 31-year-old led going into the final jump of the competition, but his 6.44-meter leap was surpassed by Brazilian Ricardo Costa de Oliveira, who went 6.52 on the last jump.

“To come here, this is essentially our Super Bowl, our NBA Finals, the pinnacle of competition, and to come up just short again is disappointing,” Gillette said. “I like R&B. I guess I’m going to be playing the blues for a little bit right now.”

Gillette won the first U.S. medal of the Rio Games, competing in the T11 division, the classification for athletes who are blind or see very little light.

At age 8, Gillette noticed blurriness when getting ready for bed one day. Doctors later discovered retina detachments in both eyes. He had 10 surgeries before he lost his sight completely.

On Thursday, Gillette nearly didn’t advance after the first three rounds. He recorded 5.95 meters on his third jump to make the top eight who receive a full complement of six jumps.

Two rounds later, Gillette summoned 6.44 meters, his only jump of six meters or longer on the day.

MORE: Rio Paralympics broadcast schedule