“I have a book coming out in 2018 I am super excited about! I also want to finish school, I have about two years completed.”
Fresh from taking her Paralympic medal haul to 23 at Rio 2016, USA’s Jessica Long reflected on her performance at Latin America’s first Paralympic Games and already plans to compete at her last in Tokyo, Japan, in four-years-time.
The swimmer won one gold, three silvers and two bronzes at this year’s Paralympics but still assures those were not “the performances that I wanted. But at the end of the day my medal count brought me to 23, how can I complain about that?”
In Rio, people packed every venue and loudly cheered for the Para athletes, especially when a Brazilian stood out. They embraced the Paralympics and made them the second biggest ever in terms of tickets sold, only behind London 2012.
“I had a blast in Rio. Having my family and boyfriend there to cheer me on, also the incredible team gear we received and standing on the podium six different times were my favourite things of the Games,” she said.
At only 24-years-old, Long has already competed at four Paralympic Games, sealing 13 golds, six silvers and four bronzes. But despite having won much more than many athletes have ever dreamed of, lack of motivation is not an issue for her.
“When I feel like giving up, I remember why I started. I just love swimming. It is that simple,” she said.
“Of course along the way, I have had good and bad practices. Swimming is a tough sport physically and mentally, but knowing my hard work is for something makes each practice go by a little faster.
“I was 12 years old for my first Games. The only goal I had was to win a gold medal and to be a part of this incredible Movement. Now I am 24, have done that 13-times, have competed all over the world and still see the Paralympics as something so great.”
Despite being involved in many different projects, Long still does not want to quit swimming but keeps dreaming further ahead.
“I have a book coming out in 2018 I am super excited about! I also want to finish school, I have about two years completed,” she said.
“And I want to get back into swimming and make a comeback. I know Tokyo will be my last [Paralympics], so I plan to go out with a bang. The sky is the limit!” she said.
Another event Long might compete in is the 2017 World Para Swimming Championships from 30 September to 7 October in Mexico City.