BYU-Idaho student Taylor Talbot has qualified to run in two events in this summer’s Paralympics in Tokyo.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) informed the legally blind 20-year-old that she would compete in the games after initially leaving her off the list.
Talbot lay on her bed eating trail mix Tuesday watching "Make it or Break it," a television comedy-drama about fictional olympic gymnasts, when she thought, “I bet they call me right now and say they have a slot." Not five minutes later, Sherrice Fox, Director of Paralympic Track and Field’s name appeared on the face of her phone.
Talbot’s body shook as she picked up the phone.
“You’re in,” Fox said.
The IPC had selected Talbot to make the Paralympic team when they initially announced the track and field qualifiers on a June 24 Zoom call. The next morning, Talbot received a call from Fox telling her she had some bad news — a mathematical miscalculation had caused the committee to select Talbot when another athlete had a higher score compared to the standard for qualifying.
“That’s when everything came crashing down, and I was like, “'No, no, this can’t be right,’ but It was.”
After Talbot left the call she broke down.
“It was pretty tough,” Talbot said. “I was crying. I was really sad.”
Talbot felt cheated. Talbot and her family had put up posts on all her social media platforms. Now they had to take them down.
After days of feeling down, Talbot began to believe she would get on the team since the committee had selected her as the first alternate.
“I knew it was going to happen,” Talbot said. “I knew I was going to get back in. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know when. But I knew I was going to get back in. So I started training (Monday) because I had a feeling.”
The IPC selected Talbot after other countries returned an allotted slot to the US making Talbot the 62nd US Track and Field selected to compete in the Paralympics.
Despite her earlier feeling, Fox’s call felt surreal.
“I was kind of afraid to believe it a little bit because of what (had) happened,” Talbot said. “But now I’m happy, and I’m happy that I went through what I went through because now I know that I can handle really hard things. I have an experience that the other paralympians on the team don’t have.”
Talbot’s selection comes on the heels of her placing third in the T13 100-meter and 400-meter dashes at the Paralympic Trials held June 17-19 at Breck School in Golden Valley, Minnesota.
The Tokyo Olympics take place from August 24 to September 5.
Talbot said the emotional rollercoaster she’s rode over the past few weeks has helped her grow. She said even if she hadn’t made the team she still learned valuable lessons.
“It’s not really about wearing the big fancy uniforms and competing on a huge international stage. It’s not about being famous or popular. It’s about what you love to do, and it’s about doing your best. In sports there’s always going to be setbacks and challenges. It’s how you overcome and respond to those challenges—that’s what matters.”