Fate of 2020 Paralympic Games uncertain, local athlete waiting for decision

Published: Mar. 23, 2020 at 10:32 PM CDT
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After the NCAA canceled all spring sports because of the coronavirus, a local parathlete who set a world record in the discus last year was forced to scramble and find a place to train for the US Paralympic trials.

"Since we are so used to going to high-class facilities to get all of our training in, we really have to get pretty creative," Jessica Heims said. "My parents' garage, we kind of turn it into a mini-workout facility. We find anything around our house: my lifting bench is a piano bench from our basement. Back at my dad’s shop, we have a net that we have for my discus that I throw into, as well."

Heims was born with amniotic band syndrome and had her left leg amputated below the knee. The former Prairie High School and current UNI athlete finished 7th in the 400 and 8th in the discus in the Rio Paralympic Games.

She was looking forward to going back this year.

"It’s always been an absolute dream for me," Heims said. "It is difficult to see all this happening during such an important year for everyone around the world."

The 2020 Paralympic Games are scheduled for August 25 through September 6, 2020, in Tokyo. The United States Paralympic Committee, along with its Olympic counterparts, have called for the games to be postponed due to the threat of COVID-19.

No decision on the fate of the games, or what the makeup dates would be if they were delayed, has been made.

"That has been really difficult for all of us. Everything is up in the air and we don’t know how the Olympics or the Paralympics are going to occur," Heims said. "We need to know sooner rather than later so we can change our training facilities. That’s been difficult for everyone to kind of navigate."

Whenever the games take place, one thing is for sure: Jessica will be ready for her chance at gold.

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