RIO DE JANEIRO – A Raleigh man captured a silver medal in the men’s long jump to win the United States’ first medal of the 2016 Paralympic Games.
It was Lex Gillette’s fourth consecutive silver medal at the Paralympic Games in the long jump. Gillette is the only totally blind athlete in the world to eclipse the 22-foot barrier in the long jump.
“I wasn’t satisfied with it,” Gillette said who took the lead with his fifth jump. “I wanted to go out there on the sixth jump and further it, but I was unsuccessful.
“To come here – this is essentially our Super Bowl, our NBA finals, the pinnacle of competition – and to come up just short again is disappointing.”
Ricardo Costa De Oliveira of Brazil took the gold on the last jump of the competition.
“Kudos for him for being able to rally back and get the gold,” said Gillette, who nonetheless lamented another second place. “It’s been same old, same old. I was really hoping for a change, but it didn’t happen that way.”
Gillette was also fourth in the triple jump at the 2012 London Paralympics. In past years, he has also competed in the 100 meter, 200 meter and the 4×100 meter relay. At the World Championships last year, Gillette captured the gold in the long jump.
Born in Kinston, Gillette grew up in Raleigh, graduating from Athens Drive in 2003 and East Carolina University in 2007.
In 1992, at age 8, Gillette was getting ready for bed when he noticed blurriness. Doctors discovered retina detachments in both eyes, which led to 10 surgeries before he completely lost his sight.