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Paralympian Scout Bassett


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Scout Bassett’s Olympian story is like no one else’s we may find at the 2020 Tokyo games. In fact, Bassett is a Paralympian and a two-time world champion medalist in long jump and the 100 meters.

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But Bassett’s story goes much further than accomplishments in Track & Field. Bassett was born in Nanjing, China. As an infant, she was badly burned in a chemical fire and ended up losing her leg. She was put up for adoption and lived in an orphanage for until she was seven years old.

At that point she was adopted by a couple in Michigan. She began playing sports as a way to get acclimated to the culture. But a lot happened to Bassett along the way before she ever got to America.

Bassett’s Early Years  

Bassett lived a very isolated life at the orphanage in China. She was not allowed out of the facility and was not provided books, television, or media of any kind. So Bassett did not know that kids grew up outside orphanages. She did not have much of a concept of the outside world in general.

Things got better for Bassett in America, but not right away. As one might imagine, being adopted was a very difficult transition for Bassett. She was all of a sudden leaving her home and put on a plane. She flew across the world to a place that she couldn’t have conceived of before. She didn’t speak English of course, and knew nothing about the people adopting her. It was all in all a very scary experience.

She ended up in a small Michigan town, unable to communicate with anyone and the only person with a disability.

The Turning Point  

When Bassett was 10 years old she started playing soccer. She played with a prosthetic leg. She managed okay but the prosthetic was really just meant for walking and so she was not able to perform to her potential.

It wasn’t until she was 14 that she found out about the Challenged Athletics Foundation. Through this foundation she was able to a grant to buy a prosthetic designed for running. This changed everything for Bassett. She was really able to move with this new prosthetic.

Bassett ran her first race that year and came in dead last. But the way she remembers it, it felt like she’d won an Olympic medal. During that race, Bassett found her true love: running.

The new running prosthetic enabled Bassett to find her passion. But it did more than that. Wearing the new prosthetic, Bassett no longer felt like she had to hide the fact that she was an amputee. Running alongside other women with disabilities, she felt stronger and no longer ashamed of who she was.

Bassett’s Running Career 

Bassett earned a full merit scholarship to UCLA. In her sophomore year she got involved with the Paralympics. Bassett started training hard and set her sights on the London Paralympics in 2012. Unfortunately she didn’t make the team.

After graduating college she worked for a few years at a medical company while training part time. But eventually, Bassett realized that in order to realize her dream of competing in the Paralympics she would have to quit her job. And that’s exactly what she did.

Bassett trained hard and lived cheaply and she did in fact make the team in 2016. Bassett says it all paid off when she stepped on the track in Rio.

The following year, in 2017, she had more success than she did in Rio, winning two bronze medals at the world championships.

Her next challenge? Tokyo, 2020.

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