The USA’s Breanna Clark blew kisses to the crowd again and again after winning the 400m T20 at Rio 2016. She even blew a kiss to the medal presenter. Her mother and coach, Rosalyn Clark, was incredibly proud at that moment, but also laughs about it now.
“She was so hyped up,” said Rosalyn Clark, an Olympian who won a silver medal in the 4x400m as Rosalyn Bryant at the 1976 Games in Montreal. “I was a little embarrassed. I said, ‘I hope nobody thinks that I told her to do that, because I didn’t.’ She did it all on her own. But I just think she was thrilled.”
More than seven months to savour what she accomplished in Rio, the 22-year-old younger Clark’s voice still carries the excitement she felt at those Games. It was about new adventures, staying apart from her family for the first time in her life and achieving her goal.
“What I remember most is staying at the [Paralympic] Village and meeting a lot of new people from different countries and heading out to the Opening Ceremony in a sweet uniform,” said Breanna. “But most important was winning the gold medal and standing on that pedestal.”
Rosalyn travelled to Rio but was not allowed inside the village or to take part in her daughter’s training sessions with the national team coach. But she talked with her daughter each day by phone, and discussed the training with her coach.
“All she said was, ‘I’m going to win that gold medal. I’m going to win that gold medal,’” said Rosalyn.
Breanna won her heat to reach the final, then streaked to a commanding lead in the 400m final. A pair of runners started to close in at the end, but Breanna held them off for the victory in a time of 57.79, just off the world record for her class of 57.78.
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