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Mormons in the Rio Paralympics: 4 medals for LDS athletes in the Summer Games

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Mormon athletes at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro won two gold medals — and set records in their respective events — and a silver and bronze medal. Overall, Mormon Times counted 11 athletes who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints representing five countries who competed in Rio.

• Sprinter Jason Smyth, 29, of the Belfast Northern Ireland Stake, won his third gold medal in the 100-meter T13 division. Smyth, who has Stargardts disease and is legally blind, is the defending champion in the event, and won gold in 2012 in London and in 2008 in Beijing. He also set a world and Paralympic record in 2012 with a time of 10.46 seconds.

• Eagle Mountain resident David Blair, 40, of the Eagle Mountain Utah Stake, won gold and set a world record in the discus F43/F44 class. Blair, who has a club foot, is a graduate of Weber State University, where he set several school records, and he recently picked up the sport again after 16 years.

• Team USA, including Josh Wheeler, 36, took silver in wheelchair rugby after a match that went to into double overtime against Australia. Wheeler, of the San Tan Valley Arizona Stake, started in several of the Paralympic games. He was in a motorcycle accident and broke his neck, losing the function in his lower body. He was introduced to wheelchair rugby a few years after the accident, according to the Deseret News archives.

• Australian shot-putter Todd Hodgetts, 28, of the Melbourne Australia Maroondah Stake, won bronze in the shot put, F20 class. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at 8 years old, won gold in the event in 2012 in London and has battled shoulder injuries in the last couple of years.

• USA’s Eric Bennett, 40, of the Surprise Arizona Stake, was eighth overall in the individual recurve competition. Bennett, who uses a mouth tab to pull back the string, lost his right arm above the elbow in a car accident when he was a teenager. He was fourth in the event in London in 2012.

• Stanford swimmer Brickelle Bro, 19, of Colorado, competed in four events during the Paralympics, including the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, 400-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly and qualified for the finals in the 400-meter freestyle . She was born without feet and competes in the S8 division.

• Tyson Gunter, 29, a returned missionary from the Spanish Fork Utah River Stake, ran in the 100-meter T13 and 400-meter T13 event. He qualified for the 400-meter T13 finals and was seventh.

• Austin Pruitt, 22, of the Chula Vista California Stake, competed in the 100-meter T34 and the 800-meter T33/34 classification, which are for athletes with coordination impairments and use wheelchairs. He advanced to the finals in the 800-meter race and was sixth.

• Margarita Faundez, 28, of the Santiago Chile La Cisterna Stake, competed in the women’s 1,500 meter T12/13 event. She was also scheduled to compete in the marathon T11/12 class, but didn’t due to injuries. She was diagnosed at 5 years old with a congenital eye disorder, in which her vision has slowly decreased.

• Ann Yoshida, 38, of the Mililani Hawaii Stake, competed in the canoe sprint, the KL1 division, which is for athletes with no use of their legs. Yoshida was in a car accident in college and was paralyzed from the waist down. She qualified for the semifinals in the event.

• Argentina’s women’s wheelchair basketball team, including guard Julieta Olmedo, 26, of the Cordoba Argentina East Stake, was ninth overall.


See "Mormons competing in the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio" for more on LDS athletes who competed in Rio.

Email: rappleye@deseretnews.com Twitter: CTRappleye