USA Paralympic Team

Paralympian Jessica Long tells fans only a negative attitude can sink their dreams

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Shoe shopping can be a problem when you don’t have any feet. Double amputee Jessica Long said she dreaded trips to the shoe store because of it reminded her she didn’t have legs. The way the clerk would look at her and her prosthetic legs and feet made her feel disabled. She just wanted shoes that were comfortable and cute. Long wondered if she’d ever be able to wear high heels or flip flops. Now at 25 new developments mean she can wear flip flops and has high heel prosthetics. She considers her prosthetic legs as “really tall shoes.” She loves to show her legs. And, along the way, she’s won 25 medals, 13 of them gold (the only ones she counts,) at the Paralympic Games. Long, the second most decorated Paralympic athlete, was in Bowling Green this week, as the special guest of We Are One Team Bowling Green. She met with athletes on the Bowling Green State University campus, addressed a crowd of 500 in the Stroh Center Wednesday night, and talked to fourth graders from Crim and Conneaut at the Wood County Library on Thursday morning. As WA1T president and founder Yannick Kluch said at both events, the organization was created to promote diversity and social justice through sports. Long’s mission is to encourage everyone, regardless of their situation, to strive to excel and persevere. “I believe the only disability in life is a negative attitude,” she told both crowds. Long…


Local athlete AJ Digby to represent USA on Paralympic track & field team

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When AJ Digby was born without fibula in both his legs, his parents believed he would never walk. The doctor was reassuring. He’ll be able to climb trees, he said. He’ll be able to play soccer, his mother Robin Digby said. When AJ Digby was 10 months old, both his feet were amputated. Soon he was fitted with his first prosthetics. Now 18, AJ Digby has made the USA Paralympic Track & Field Team. He’s headed to Rio de Janeiro in September to represent the United States in the Paralympics. This weekend the official announcement of the track and field. And though he’s already represented the USA in the World Games, making the Paralympic squad is “the pinnacle … the ultimate” said his father, Gordon Digby. His parents are making their way back from Charlotte, North Carolina, where the trials were held, and where they experienced yet another milestone in their son’s sports career. It was their son’s second try at making the team. He participated in the trials in 2012. He ran in the 100, 200 and 400 meter races, though it’s uncertain which events he’ll run in Brazil. Born into a sports-obsessed family, his participation in sports isn’t surprising. “Our kids didn’t have a chance,” said Gordon, who played football and ran track. “They fell into sports very early.” Robin Digby competed in volleyball. “We’re into all kinds of sports,” Gordon Digby said. Despite using prosthetics, AJ Digby competed against able bodied…