Paralympic Trials: Gia Pergolini, Jessica Long, Mallory Weggemann Shine on First Night


The inaugural day of the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials featured record-breaking performances as the multi-sport event kicked off with Para swimming and Para track and field events with more than 250 Team USA athletes vying for a spot on the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Team.

Paralympic hopeful Gia Pergolini (Roswell, Georgia) dominated the opening day in women’s 100m backstroke S13 setting two new world records to end the day as one to watch heading into the next two days of competition. The 17-year-old last won gold at the 2017 World Para Swimming World Series and now has her sights set on making her first U.S. Paralympic Team.

“I feel great. I’ve been dreaming about this for a really long time and seeing it play out is really nice. It gives me a lot of confidence and it gives me support going into Tokyo and just representing my country and getting that world record for my country is a really great experience,” Pergolini said. “I was a little disappointed that it was postponed last year, but I’m happy because I feel really strong and I trained really well for this moment. Definitely matured mentally and practiced on how I end my race and keeping a good pace. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s just so surreal. I have to thank my coach and my mom and my parents for it, it’s just crazy.”

Jessica Long (Baltimore, Maryland), at 13-time gold medalist, won the 100 breaststroke SB7 (1:34.18) and 100m back SB7 (1:20.11). Hometown hero Mallory Weggemann (Eagan, Minn) took home a pair of first-place finishes in the 100 back S7 (1:22.68), and the 50m fly S7 (33.95).

“Being a member of Team USA in Tokyo would be remarkable,” Weggemann said. “This would be my third Paralympic Games and I think these Games in particular are extra special because we will unite as one when we get to Tokyo. After the year that we’ve all experienced, not just here domestically in the U.S, but around the world, we need it more than ever. I won gold at the London 2012 Games and I have not sat atop the Paralympic podium since September 2, 2012. This has been a long fight and battle and I’m so proud of what my coach Steve and I have done, and I’m aiming for gold in Tokyo. I think that at the end of the day, that’s motivated by the knowledge that when I get behind those starting blocks and when I hopefully get atop of that podium, it represents something so much larger than myself.”

More Paralympics news

Swimming Highlights:

  • 17-year-old Paralympic hopeful Gia Pergolini (Roswell, Georgia) dominated the women’s 100m backstroke S13 with a time of 1:05.13, setting two world records in one day.
  • Two-time Paralympic medalist Ellie Marks (Prescott Valley, Arizona) broke the Americas record in both the 100m backstroke S6 (1.21.56) and the 50m butterfly S6 (37.06).
  • 13-time Paralympic gold medalist Jessica Long (Baltimore, Maryland) captured the women’s 100 breaststroke SB7 (1:34.18) and 100m backstroke SB7 (1:20.11).
  • Paralympic hopeful Zach Shattuck (Mt. Airy, Maryland) recorded top finishes and set a pair of American records in the 100m breaststroke SB6 (1:24.19) and the 50m fly S6 (33.33).