Becca Meyers, Citing Lack of Support, a Major Missing Name From Paralympics

becca-meyers
Photo Courtesy: Frank Genderson

Becca Meyers, Citing Lack of Support, a Major Missing Name From Paralympics

Last month, multi-time Paralympic medalist Becca Meyers announced she would not compete at the Tokyo Games due to a lack of support. Here is a reminder of Meyers’ story, and her reasoning for not attending the Paralympics. Additionally, here is the rebuttal to Meyers’ claims by fellow medalist Roy Perkins.

Citing a lack of support for athletes in Tokyo during the Paralympics, Becca Meyers has withdrawn from what would have been her third Paralympics.

Meyers informed the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee of her decision on Sunday. She spoke to The Washington Post Monday about the decision. Meyers also penned an essay for USA Today on Tuesday.

“I would love to go to Tokyo,” Meyers, 26, told The Post. “Swimming has given me my identity as a person. I’ve always been Becca the Swimmer Girl. I haven’t taken this lightly. This has been very difficult for me. [But] I need to say something to effect change, because this can’t go on any longer.”

Meyers is deaf and blind as a result of Usher syndrome. She requires a personal care assistant (PCA) to complete her daily activities in and out of the pool. Since a bad experience with her assistance at the Rio Olympics, her mother Maria has served as her PCA at international events.

But restrictions surrounding COVID-19 at the Tokyo Olympics have led the organizing committee to limit the presence of non-athletes at the games. When the USOPC informed Meyers that her mother, whose status as a PCA at previous meets had been approved by that body, couldn’t go with her to Tokyo, Meyers elected to pull out of the competition.

“She’s given her entire life for this. It’s unacceptable. It’s heartbreaking,” Maria Meyers said. “She is terrified to go [alone]. And I mean terrified — like, rolled up in a ball, shaking.”

“I haven’t been sleeping. I’m so stressed,” Becca Meyers said. “My training started to suffer because of this situation, and I just haven’t been able to be the best I can be. I know I can be the best I can be with the resources I need. It’s worked for the last four years.”

The Meyers family appealed to people in the U.S. government and within the IOC and IPC, but their petitions have elicited no change.

Meyers was a medal contender in up to four events in Tokyo. She started at the Paralympics in 2012 at age 17 and is one of the most recognized Paralympic swimmers. Meyers won ESPY awards in 2015 and 2017 and has set numerous American and World records. She won three gold medals at the Rio Paralympics in 2016 in the S13 and SM13 categories as well as a silver. She returned from London with a bronze and a silver. Meyers trained at North Baltimore Aquatic Club, then club of Michael Phelps, and Katie Ledecky’s Nation’s Capital Swim Club, two of the top clubs in the nation.

Despite the chance to add to that silverware, Meyers is prioritizing her needs, particularly avoiding a situation in Tokyo where she isn’t being looked after. The fact that the USOPC hasn’t put her, and other Paralympic swimmers’, needs at the forefront is why the she’s taking her stand.

“No one has ever asked me what I need,” Meyers said. “No one has ever asked me that question. When we had a meeting in May to discuss this, I presented my case and I said, ‘Okay, how do we make this work?’ They talked right over me. They dismissed me. They said, ‘This is what we have; you’re going to have to deal with it.’”

Speedo, which sponsors Meyers, also put out a statement:

“Becca has been forced to make a decision that no Paralympian should ever have to make and Speedo fully supports her decision to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. As a valued member of Team Speedo, we continue to stand alongside Becca and support her journey and all that makes her an inspiring role model for the next generation of swimmers.”

14 comments

  1. avatar
    Kris DeLair

    This is appalling. The needs of our athletes should be number one priority.
    It’s a shame that decency and common sense have gone out the window.

  2. avatar
    Tom G

    I can’t say how sad this makes me. But Becca is doing the right thing no matter how much it must hurt. The story of r career is great and nothing will change that!

    • avatar
      Mary Music

      Nice dismissive reply, from someone who knows nothing, about the sacrifice….

  3. avatar
    Justin Liss

    Again not a good look for the Olympic Committee. Just keep on trending downward and I bet this years summer Olympics tv ratings are at an all time low.

  4. avatar
    Robert Kelly

    Sometimes rules need to be broken. Common sense is still not common. Cheating Becca of opportunity is WRONG! Need to blindfold and put earplugs on all those involved for a day and see how they make it through the day.

  5. avatar
    Matthew Berger

    “This is what we have deal with it”. She dealt with it by quitting. Move on.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      Excellent reply, by someone who (apparently) deals with injustice, with dismissal….

  6. avatar
    Marc Walker

    How do you live with yourself USA officials. Someone who worked so hard to get to where she wanted just to have the rug pulled out from under her. Just sickens me. We need to do better for all of US-Americans.

    • avatar
      Tom

      Except this is not a decision by U.S. officials. These are officials of the International Olympic Committee. They aren’t holding U.S. athletes to any standard different from the other countries. In these Olympics, the IOC is putting money ahead of human safety. They need to be cancelled.

  7. avatar
    David Stone

    IOC may be immune to the ADA, but the US OC is not. If she sues, I’ll contribute to that litigation fund.

  8. avatar
    Lisabritt Solsky Stevens

    It’s a shame that that the IOC, the sponsor of games for people with live with disabilities, cannot embrace the ADA. This is discrimination plain and simple. The irony should be lost on no one.

  9. avatar
    Tom

    This is simply one more valid reason why the Olympics need to be canceled. It is so obviously not safe. Otherwise, it would allow all persons affiliated with the programs to be in attendance. Cancel these Olympics.

  10. avatar
    Nick Mogielnicki

    This is a travesty that needs to be remedied immediately. What a terrible thing to do to this athlete. I’m beyond pissed about this. The USOC is a joke.

  11. avatar
    Brenda Tress

    We can boycott about the situation by refusing to watch the Olympics this summer! A silent protest for mistreating disable human’s principle of decency with respect equally to able-bodied athletes!

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