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New Hampshire’s Morgan Stickney wins gold in 400-meter freestyle S8 final in Tokyo

“Never be afraid to dream BIG!!”

Morgan Stickney of Team USA reacts after winning gold in the women's 400-meter freestyle S8 final on Tuesday. Alex Davidson/Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee
Morgan Stickney

Morgan Stickney, the 24-year-old Paralympic swimmer from Bedford, New Hampshire, won gold on Tuesday in the 400-meter S8 freestyle at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. 

The win comes almost two years after Stickney underwent her second amputation because of a rare vascular disorder that cut off blood supply to her feet. She was relearning how to walk and swim in early 2020. But when she learned the Tokyo games were postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, she set her sights on competing for Team USA in the Paralympics she originally thought she’d miss because of her surgery.

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“All I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the amazing people in my life who helped me achieve this dream!!” Stickney wrote on Instagram after her medal-winning race. “Never be afraid to dream BIG!!”

Morgan Stickney during the medal ceremony. – Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

The New Hampshire native finished the race with a time of 4:42.39, pushing past her teammate and five-time Paralympian Jessica Long in the final few meters of the race. 

Her final time fell just short of her goal of breaking the world record for the 400-meter freestyle in the S8 classification — 4:40.33 — that was set at the Rio Paralympics by Lakeisha Patterson.

“Everything I’ve been through in the past few years kind of flashed before [my] eyes,” she told Para Swimming. “I remember sitting in the hospital just dreaming of being able to go to the Paralympic Games … being able to be here and then to get the gold medal is just such an honour.”

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