NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the Rio Paralympics includes daily stories of some of the world’s most dominant athletes.
Here’s a selection of short profiles on some of Team USA’s stars:
How Tatyana McFadden went from a Russian orphanage to Team USA’s biggest star going into the Rio Paralympics:
Jessica Long‘s path from 12-year-old Paralympic rookie through 12 gold medals to recent struggles:
How Jamie Whitmore dealt with a cancer diagnosis as the most accomplished off-road triathlete:
Lex Gillette reflects on losing his sight at 8 years old and finding track and field:
Jarryd Wallace looks back on the decision to amputate his right leg at age 20 and the Paralympic goals he immediately set and reached:
How Dartanyon Crockett uses a musical instrument as an outlet from judo:
Winter Paralympic medalist Amy Purdy looks ahead to dancing in the Opening Ceremony:
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