Jessica Long notched the first four-peat of her decorated Paralympic career with a win in the women’s 200m individual medley SM8 on Saturday evening in Tokyo.
Long has won the 200 IM at every Paralympic Games where she’s entered the event; the five-time Paralympian only competed in freestyle events at the Athens 2004 Games, when she made her debut at 12 years old.
“I’m over the moon,” Long said, according to U.S. Paralympics Swimming. “I’m just so happy. To have a four-peat in the 200 IM, that’s what I’ve been dreaming of coming into these Games. I’m really proud of myself.”
The most decorated active Paralympian, Long set the current Paralympic record of 2:37.09 at the London 2012 Games. She won in Tokyo with a time of 2:41.49. Italy’s Xenia Francesca Palazzo, 23, took her first Paralympic medal in 2:47.86 with the Russian Paralympic Committee’s Mariya Pavlova, 22, touching in 2:48.63 for bronze. Eighteen-year-old Haven Shepherd, a best friend of Long’s, was fifth in her first Paralympic final in 3:03.59.
At 29 years old, Long was the oldest in the eight-woman final, with German Mira Jeanne Maack the youngest at 17.
“I moved out to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Training Center about a year ago,” Long explained. “I made that very big sacrifice to be away from my family and my husband just to have this type of performance and I think it’s paid off. To be able to train at altitude, swim long course and to be around an amazing group of people, I’m just really thankful.”
The Baltimore native became the second-most decorated U.S. Paralympian in history when she reached 21 medals in Rio five years ago. She ended those Games with 23 and is now at 25, having earned bronze in the 100m backstroke S8 on Friday, which marked her fourth consecutive Paralympic medal in that event after silvers in Beijing and London and bronze in Rio.
Fellow U.S. swimmer Trischa Zorn, the most decorated Paralympian of any nation with 55 medals across seven Paralympics, finished her career with five-peats in her classification’s 200m IM and 100m backstroke, and four-peats in the 100m freestyle and 400 IM.
American Sophia Herzog was third in the 100m breaststroke SB6 earlier in the session, behind 2019 World silver medalist Maisie Summers-Newton of Great Britain and 2019 World champion Liu Daomin of China. This was Herzog’s second Paralympic medal, after taking silver in the same event five years ago. She has one race remaining to her Paralympic career, the 50m butterfly.
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