Cedarville Alumna Grace Norman Takes Silver in Paralympic Triathalon

by Abigail Hintz

Grace Norman made history in 2016 as the first female Paralympic gold medalist in the triathlon. Yesterday, the 23-year-old became a three-time Paralympic medalist when she took silver in the triathlon with a time of 1:05:27.

“This has been a long time coming,” Norman said after the race. “I had a great race, start to finish. No regrets. I gave it my all. I’m overjoyed. It was an incredible day.”

The Paralympic triathlon is broken down into several classifications so athletes are competing against others who are similarly disabled. Norman competed in the PTS5 class, which means athletes have mild impairments and are approved to use prostheses in the biking and running segments.

At just 18-years-old, Norman won gold in the first-ever women’s Paralympic triathlon as well as bronze in the 400-m race in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Five years later, she got her third medal.

Norman, a graduate of Xenia Christian School and Cedarville University, came in 41 seconds after the first-place finisher, Great Britain’s Lauren Steadman who is a close competitor and friend of Norman’s. The two battled it out in Rio five years ago, with Norman edging out the Steadman in that race. 

Coming into Tokyo, Norman was ranked No. 3 in the world, behind Steadman and yesterday’s bronze medalist Claire Cashmore. The running portion, which comes last in the triathlon, is Norman’s strength, which was made clear in her standout track and field and cross country career at Cedarville. It seemed coming out of the biking third that she was in position to retake the lead from Steadman being just 18 seconds behind. She was unable to, the 90-degree heat most likely to blame.

“I respect her so much. She is a phenomenal athlete,” Norman said of Steadman. “Of course I wanted to win gold, but I’m happy for her.”

As Norman crossed the finish line the broadcast showed the jubilation at a watch party being held in the Stevens Student Center at Cedarville. Due to COVID-19, athletes at the Olympics and Paralympics were unable to have family and friends in Tokyo supporting them, but Norman’s support system made the most of it and poured out their excitement for her regardless.

The Jamestown, Ohio-native was born missing her left ankle and foot due to an amniotic band disorder. The condition has done nothing to hold back the Paralympian as she continues to shine in her sport and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Abigail Hintz is a senior Journalism major and the Editor-in-chief and Sports Editor for Cedars. She loves reading, playing Spikeball with her friends and watching soccer 24/7.

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