Kent’s Jaleen Roberts won a silver medal in the long jump at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Roberts jumped 4.65 meters (15 feet) for the second-place finish on Sunday, Aug. 29. This was the first medal of her Paralympic career. China’s Wen Xiaoyan won with a leap of 5.13 meters (16 feet, 8 inches) in the T37 classification.
Earlier in the Paralympics, Roberts didn’t win a medal in the 200 meters, but she set an American record and prepared herself for two more events.
Roberts, a 2017 graduate of Kent-Meridian High School, took sixth place in 28.02 seconds on Aug. 27, shattering the record of 29.14 set by Sonya Bell in 1998. She competed as a T37 classification.
“I’m feeling good,” Roberts said after the race, according to an email from New York-based GreatRange marketing. “Obviously everyone’s goal when they come to the Paralympic Games is to medal, but if I’m comparing myself to myself I did pretty well. It was my second-best time I’ve ever ran and I set an American record so I’m trying to look at the positives coming out of it rather than focus on the place I didn’t get.”
China’s Wen Xiaoyan won the race in a world record mark of 26.58. She became the first female T37 athlete to break 27 seconds in the 200.
Roberts also is scheduled to compete in the 100 during her first Paralympic Games, which run through Sept. 5.
“I know myself alone and all my competitors have been training hard for this moment so I’m not going to discredit any of them for that, and I got long jump coming up and that’s my favorite and best event,” Roberts said. “So, I know there’ll be a medal coming out of that one.”
Roberts added that the 200 race was helpful in getting rid of pre-race nerves.
“I don’t think they ever go away, I think it’s normal and healthy to be nervous,” she said. “They were definitely better and I think they’ll get better as I’m more comfortable with the event. The 200-meter is kind of a secondary event for me. Long jump is my focus event so I don’t think I’ll be nervous for that one. I think my training is going to show for that one.”
Roberts, a 2021 graduate of Eastern Washington University in Cheney with a degree in health and physical education, was born with cerebral palsy, a condition caused by a stroke at birth that impairs her muscle coordination. She was encouraged by her high school coaches to compete in the ambulatory races at the Washington state track meet..