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Roderick Townsend-Roberts of the USA competes in the Men's High Jump T47 Final at the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships.

Roderick Townsend-Roberts


The tall American is equally adept jumping high as he is long, winning medals at Paralympic Games and World Championships.

The talented multi-eventer was introduced to Para athletics by 2008 US Paralympic high jump champion Jeff Skiba and made his international debut at the Arizona Grand Prix in 2015.

Four months later, at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, he set a new world record in the high jump (2.12m) on his way to the first of two gold medals. He won gold in the long jump (7.18m) with an Americas record.

Two months after that, he won high jump T47 gold as well as silver in the triple jump T47, long jump T47 and 4x100m T42-47 relay the World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

At the Rio 2016 Games Townsend-Roberts clinched double gold, winning both the long jump (7.41m) and high jump (2.09m) T47, with Paralympic records in both. In fact, he was the only competitor to clear the two-metre mark in the high jump.

In April 2017 the former decathlete, who works as a jumps coach at Northern Arizona University, added one centimetre to his world record when he cleared 2.13m at the Mt SAC Relays in California.

Three months’ later he leapt to gold at the London 2017 World Championships, winning with a championship record clearance of 2.10m before bowing out at a new world record attempt of 2.15m.


Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Impaired muscle power
Origin of Impairment

Further personal information

Wife Tynita Butts
Athlete, Coach
Higher education
Education - Northern Arizona University: Flagstaff, AZ, USA

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He took up Para athletics in 2014.
Why this sport?
He was introduced to Para athletics by US Paralympic high jumper Jeff Skiba. "I knew I had a disability, but I didn't think anything of it. I had heard of Paralympics before, but I thought the only people who did Paralympics were people with blades."

International debut

Competing for
United States
Grand Prix
Mesa, AZ, USA

General interest

Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold in the T47 high jump at the 2015 World Championships in Doha, Qatar. (, 28 Oct 2015)
Most influential person in career
Coach Jeff Petersmeyer. (, 22 Sep 2016)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Where you are doesn't really matter when you really know where you want to be." (, 22 Sep 2016)
Awards and honours
He was named Male Athlete of the Month for June 2015 by the US Olympic Committee [USOC]. (, 08 Jul 2015)
Other sports
He competed in able-bodied athletics for Boise State University in Idaho, United States of America. He also captained his high school varsity American football team. (, 18 Oct 2015, 14 Aug 2015)
Famous relatives
His wife Tynita Butts competed in high jump for East Carolina University in the United States of America from 2009 to 2013. She also took part in the high jump final at the 2012 US Olympic Trials. (, 04 Apr 2019;, 01 Jan 2016)
To compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (, 04 Apr 2019)
He sustained permanent nerve damage to his right shoulder, neck and arm at birth. His brachial plexus nerve is damaged, making his right arm significantly weaker than his left. (, 08 Feb 2018;, 22 Sep 2016)
Other information
He won gold in the T47 high jump and T47 long jump on his Paralympic debut at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, but was not completely happy with his achievement. "I was very disappointed with my high jump performance, especially going back and watching the film. It was really ugly. Being somewhat of a perfectionist I'm disappointed with the way I handled myself when it really mattered the most." (, 23 May 2017)

He coaches athletics at the University of Louisville in the United States of America. (, 04 Apr 2019)


Unit Date Rank
IPC Athletics 2015 World Championships (Doha, Qatar)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's Triple Jump T47 Final 1 2015-10-26 2
Men's 100 m T47 Heat 1 2015-10-27 6
Men's 100 m T47 Final 1 2015-10-27 8
Men's Long Jump T47 Final 1 2015-10-28 2
Men's High Jump T47 Final 1 2015-10-29 1
Men's 4x100 m T42-47 Final 1 2015-10-31 2
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 100 m T47 Heat 1 2016-09-10 3
Men's 100 m T47 Final Round 2016-09-11 5
Men's Long Jump T47 Final Round 2016-09-14 1
Men's High Jump T47 Final Round 2016-09-16 1
World Para Athletics Championships London 2017 (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 100 m T47 Final 1 2017-07-15 6
Men's 100 m T47 Heat 1 2017-07-15 6
Men's High Jump T47 Final 1 2017-07-16 1
Men's Long Jump T47 Final 1 2017-07-19 4