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NBC to feature ‘The Jessica Long Story’

An NBC Olympics production crew accompanied the American Paralympic champion to Russia to meet her birth family.

Jessica Long American swimmer Jessica Long has competed in three Paralympic Games, picking up 17 medals, including 12 golds. © • Getty Images
By IPC

The feature will tell the remarkable story of how she discovered her first family, and eventually embarked on a journey through a past she never knew.

American Jessica Long, a 12-time Paralympic champion, will be the subject of a 20-minute feature “Long Way Home: The Jessica Long Story,” that will air within NBC’s Olympic coverage this weekend (22-23 February).

Long Way Home chronicles the story of the 21-year-old from a Baltimore, Maryland, suburb, who was born in Russia and adopted by American parents. The feature tracks Long’s journey from the States to Siberia – Baltimore to Bratsk – to meet her birth family.

Two trailers are available to view here and here. To follow Long’s story on social media, viewers are encouraged to follow the hashtag #WelcomeJessicaHome on Twitter.

A double-amputee and a Russian-born orphan, Long has grown up as two people simultaneously, a dedicated and determined young woman who has used that drive to become one of the most-decorated Paralympians and also someone who, from 13 months old at her adoption from a Russian orphanage, has longed to know who she really is.

The feature will tell the remarkable story of how she discovered her first family, and eventually embarked on a journey through a past she never knew.

Originally named Tatiana Olegovna Kirillova, Long retraces her adoption back to her orphanage in Irkutsk, Russia, and on to what would have been her hometown of Bratsk, deep in the heart of Siberia. It’s here that we see the overwhelming moment where she comes face-to-face for the first time, not only with her birth mother, but her biological father, brothers and sisters – the Russian family she had never met.

It’s an adventure that takes her more than 7,000 miles from the world and family she grew up knowing.

A production team from NBC Olympics accompanied Long on a three-day journey to reach the adoption centre in Irkutsk and the 18-hour train ride to Bratsk.

Born with fibular hemimelia, the lower part of Long’s legs were amputated when she was 18 months old. She learned to walk on prosthesis. Now a 17-time Paralympic medallist – including 12 gold medals – Long holds 13 world records and is a two-time US Paralympic Sports Woman of the Year.