So, one thing you can try is to give yourself a drink total before you head out, so you know to stop once you’ve hit your cap. (If you regularly find yourself making excuses to go past that limit or don’t feel capable of stopping once you reach it, we’ll discuss that later.) Having a full glass of water after each alcoholic drink is another way to be mindful of your pace. You’ll also stay hydrated as a bonus, which can help reduce your risk of a bad hangover.2. Your drinking tolerance might feel totally different.Anyone can find themselves in a risky situation if they’re not aware of how drinking more or less has changed their tolerance, which signals the level of “drunk” they’re accustomed to after having a certain amount of alcohol. “If you started drinking more during the pandemic, your tolerance to alcohol may have increased,” Dr. Fernandez says. “People sometimes rely on their own perception of how intoxicated they are but the more tolerant you are, the less you feel the intoxicating effects that can impair driving.” That’s why it’s more important than ever to have a transportation plan in place if you’re drinking away from home—rideshare, public transit, or a DD—so that you don’t feel tempted to drive if you “feel” OK.If you cut back during the pandemic, your tolerance may have decreased, meaning you might feel the effects of that second drink a lot faster. In this situation, it’s important to be especially aware when drinking in new settings and to take it more slowly than you normally would so that you don’t accidentally get sick or maybe do something else that you might regret. (Again, going in with a plan for spacing out drinks and imbibing slowly is huge here.)3. You might feel some anxiety around drinking and socializing.We’re all so used to staying at home now, so it’s understandable to feel a bit of anxiety in social situations. With that, you may find yourself drinking more than you normally do so you don’t feel awkward making small talk with people you don’t know well or haven’t seen in a while. If that’s the case, then you may want to think about what scenarios you’re comfortable socializing in while sober. For now, maybe you feel better hanging out with just a few friends and going for a bike ride together. Over time, as things continue to reopen, you may feel more excited about going out and seeing more people, diffusing the need to use alcohol as a crutch in those moments.However, you might completely avoid social situations involving alcohol if you’ve been drinking less for the past year, because it feels awkward being the only one who’s not drinking or having to explain to others why you’re not. But you shouldn’t let that stop you from having fun!“You don’t want to think about it so much that you paralyze yourself and can’t go out and have a good time,” Alexander Hubbell4, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School and program director of Addiction Medicine and Outpatient Substance Use Disorder Services at MHealth Fairview, tells SELF. If that sounds familiar, before going out with friends, try setting the boundary that you will not drink if you don’t want to. You may find it helpful to order seltzer water with lime or a mocktail so you’re holding something and sipping something along with others. Over time, you will hopefully feel more relaxed about it and feel less pressure to drink.4. You might decide to stop drinking altogether.If you cut back on drinking (or stopped entirely) when social events hit a halt, it may have come as a surprise that you really enjoy drinking less—or not at all. If you’ve been happier without the bar, then it could be the perfect time to create a new narrative for yourself, says Dr. Hubbell. That can be as simple as: “I can go out and enjoy my friends and not give in to the pressure to drink,” Dr. Hubbell says.
Just to emphasize here, remember that it’s likely not their fault. (Unless it actually is and they won’t change a controllable habit that’s messing with your sleep—then maybe you have a right to be angry.) “It’s important to acknowledge that this isn’t something anybody is doing on purpose, so it should not be approached with contempt,” Butler-Ozore says. “Keep the problem at the core and don’t make it a personal battle.”3. Get to the root of the problem—and show your support along the way.Non-health-related things can interfere with sleep—like wildly different work schedules—but often, if someone is saying they can’t sleep with their partner, it’s because the partner has a health-related sleep issue, Dr. Aysola says.Snoring is obviously a huge one. “It is very common and something that has a big impact,” Dr. Aysola says. “If your partner sounds like they are choking every night and snoring loudly, that may need to be addressed.” That isn’t just something that’s annoying to you, but it’s a real health concern that can indicate a form of sleep apnea, or when a person repeatedly stops breathing while they sleep. Other sleep disorders that cause someone to flail around in bed (like night terrors) need to be addressed, too.Gently recommending your partner get a sleep evaluation to figure out how to fix the problem can help both of you in the long run. Saying something like, “It’s really difficult for me to sleep, and I know you can’t help it, but can we figure out a way for both of us to get better sleep at night?” can help you broach the subject.Your support might be more important than you know. “Spousal or partner support in someone starting this is really essential in getting it to work well,” Dr. Aysola says. With sleep apnea in particular, some people may be worried about how a CPAP machine looks. (CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure; these wearable devices deliver oxygen during the night to help treat sleep apnea.) Knowing their partner is there for them and wants to work together on a solution to the problem can help take that worry away. (CPAP machines can be a source of noise disturbance on their own while you’re trying to rest, though—more on how to fix that in a sec.)4. Get creative with your solutions.You may have heard of “sleep divorces,” or the idea of sleeping separately from your romantic partner. In its most extreme form, it can extend to sleeping in totally separate rooms. This can absolutely help with sleep discord, but the reality is that not everyone has the option of sleeping in another bedroom (or wants to). So brainstorming small ways to improve the situation while staying in the same room can be a great option. Easy fixes like eye masks, earplugs, blackout curtains, and white noise machines can all be helpful to reduce the sensory stimulation that’s keeping you awake, whether it’s from a partner snoring, using a CPAP, or turning lights on at ungodly hours, Dr. Aysola says.You may also have to get creative and try some other potential solutions. For example, maybe you can stagger your bedtimes so that one person has a chance to fall asleep first, Butler-Ozore suggests. Depending on what’s keeping you up, maybe you sleep in the same room but have your own separate beds. Maybe just having your own set of sheets and comforter solves the problem if you keep waking up as your partner unwittingly wrenches linens from your body each night.5. If you do end up in separate rooms, make time for intimacy before bed.So, you’ve tried everything you can think of, and you still just can’t sleep well with your partner. If the majority of your physical bonding happens in bed—whether that’s cuddling or having sex, at bedtime or in the morning—then you’ll need to make sure you’re still getting that time together.“If you do decide to sleep separately, then you have to be more intentional about making time for closeness and even more intentional about making time for intimacy,” Butler-Ozore says. Maybe that means that on certain days, you do sleep in the same bed together. Or you lie in bed and have time together for physical closeness and pillow talk, and part ways right when you’re ready to fall asleep.It can be really hard to break that association between sleep and intimacy, Dr. Aysola says. But lack of sleep can also seriously strain a relationship. If you commit to working together to come up with a solution that meets both parties’ needs, your bond will be stronger for it.Also, be open to re-negotiating solutions, Butler-Ozore says. “If you try something and it doesn’t work, it’s okay to go back to the drawing board and try something else.” Like everything else in a relationship, open communication, compromise, and honesty go a very long way.Related:
One of the things that grosses me out most in this world is when my bed winds up in contact with “outside clothes.” You know: the clothes I wore to the grocery store, or out to dinner, or wherever else I went outside my home. Something about knowing those clothes were touching public surfaces before touching the sacred place where I sleep really makes my skin crawl.The thing is, just because something feels gross or unhygienic doesn’t always mean it’s actually dangerous or going to do any of the things my anxieties tell me it might, like make me sick. So I spoke with a couple of experts to find out how big a deal it really is to wear “outside clothes” on your inside furniture.The chances you’ll track something contagious into your home on your clothes are pretty slim.Turns out, my concerns aren’t totally invalid—but it’s not super likely that clothing is a primary source of infectious illness, says Thomas A. Russo, M.D., professor and chief of infectious disease at the University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “In the infectious disease world, there’s uncertainty about relative importance [of clothing] in the role of transmission,” he tells SELF. It’s just not really clear how much clothing and other textiles can contribute to disease spread. But it could theoretically play some sort of role under the right circumstances, Dr. Russo says, even if it’s small.“Certainly our linens and clothes play a role [in transmitting pathogens], but it’s probably more of an intermediate role,” Dr. Russo says. Experts aren’t really concerned that germs on clothing directly make us sick; it’s more that clothing that has picked up certain pathogens can potentially do so if all of the stars align just right. For example, if you’re wearing clothing that has an illness-causing pathogen on it, and you touch that exact pathogen-containing spot for significantly long enough that those microbes wind up on your fingers, then you immediately touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. “The risk isn’t zero, but I think the risk is very low,” Dr. Russo says.Part of the reason for this is because your risk of getting sick isn’t just dependent on a pathogen being present. There also has to be a critical mass of any microbe in question for it to cause infection. Some bacteria and viruses require a small presence to cause illness; others require a larger load of potential infection-causing microbes. Also, many pathogens that cause GI and respiratory illnesses are not stable for very long outside the body, Dr. Russo adds. And clothing fibers can even trap particles to a degree, keeping them from spreading and transferring onto other items or your hands. “The pathogens aren’t as bioavailable as they are if someone coughs and you breathe it in directly, for example,” Dr. Russo says.Of course, we can’t not talk about COVID-19 in this context. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot of talk about fomites, which are inanimate objects that can carry infection. At first, there was significant concern that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could spread rapidly and easily via these contaminated objects. Eventually, experts realized it is vastly more likely for someone to catch COVID-19 through respiratory droplets and aerosols than through fomite contact.1You can further mitigate this already small “outside clothes” risk by practicing good hand hygiene. “For many pathogens, including respiratory and GI pathogens, if your hands are contaminated, you then subsequently have to touch the mouth or eyes or nose to get sick,” Dr. Russo says. If you’re diligent about washing your hands before doing things like touching your face or preparing food, you’ll stave off most bugs that do find their way into your home. And if we’re talking about items that are most likely to track potential pathogens and general grossness into your living space, those would be your shoes—so create your shoes-in-the-house policy with that in mind.If you have seasonal allergies, you’ll want to be more careful with wearing “outside clothes” inside.So you’re not super likely to catch a contagious illness through your clothes, but a lot of common allergens can and do hitchhike on our clothes and get into our homes, Denisa E. Ferastraoaru, M.D., assistant professor of medicine in allergy and immunology and attending physician at Einstein/Montefiore and Jacobi Medical Centers, tells SELF.
Jaleen Roberts has started off her Paralympic career with a bang: The track and field athlete won two silver medals at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games this week, and set two American records along the way. On August 29, Roberts won silver in the women’s long jump T37 with a distance of 4.65 meters. (T37 is a sport class for athletes with coordination impairments and who are affected by hypertonia, ataxia, and athetosis.) Xiaoyan Wen of China—the current world record and Paralympic record holder—won gold with a distance of 5.13 meters, and Anna Sapozhnikova of the Russian Paralympic Committee won bronze with a distance of 4.56 meters.The long jump is Roberts’s best event—her nickname is Jumpin’ Jay. According to Team USA, the athlete said that the adrenaline from winning her first Paralympic medal fueled her to snag silver and set an American record in her next event: the women’s 100-meter T37, which took place on September 2.Roberts finished with a time of 13.16, just behind China’s Xiaoyan Wen, who won gold with a world record time of 13.00. Fenfen Jiang, also of China, finished just behind Roberts to secure bronze with a time of 13.17.“I didn’t really have expectations,” Roberts said after the 100-meter dash, according to Team USA. “I think that after my prelim performance last night, seeing my time and having my 100 meter so close to the long jump helped. My adrenaline was just kind of still going from last night, so I just went into it with a really good headspace.”Roberts also raced in the women’s 200-meter T37 earlier in the Games, and although she didn’t medal (she placed sixth), she did set a new American record with her time of 28.02.The 22-year-old athlete was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that impacts her muscle coordination. She started wrestling when she was in eighth grade and competed at the state level for her high school in Washington, according to the Team USA website. She entered the world of Para sports in 2017.Over the past year, Roberts has been very open about her mental health on social media. In June, she posted a photo on Instagram to share the news that she was named to the U.S. Paralympic Track & Field Team. In the caption, she talked about how much she had gone through to get there.“My mental health was the worst it had ever been, and quite honestly I wanted to give up on everything —school, track, life. It eventually became so bad that I didn’t feel safe with myself,” Roberts wrote. “I reached out and spoke up so that I could get the help I so desperately needed. When I took the first step to becoming healthy again, I began to rediscover my purpose and regain my motivation. The journey has been everything but easy.”She then went on to dedicate her Paralympics performance to her dear friend, Kyndal, who passed away in May.In a press conference after her 100-meter race in Tokyo, Roberts spoke more about her friend. “This Games was dedicated to her, and I just want to make her proud,” Roberts said. “I know that none of my family can be in Tokyo with me, but I know that she’s here. I feel her every time I compete. I talk to her. I think that I made her proud, and that was my main goal during the Games.”According to Team USA, Roberts plans to take a month off after the Games before getting back into training.“Obviously, I’ve shown myself the potential I have for the 100 because I wasn’t too confident earlier in the year,” Roberts said, per Team USA. “So I’m feeling pretty good about the training coming up, and I’m excited. Definitely not done anytime soon.”Roberts’s two silver medals bring the total hardware haul for Team USA to 80. They’re currently fourth in the rankings, behind medal leaders China, Great Britain, and the Russian Paralympic Committee. Action wraps up on September 5, so Team USA still has a few days to add to their hardware count.Related:
With a competitive sports career that has lasted over three decades, Dutch cyclist Jennette Jansen has shown she’s not slowing down.Jansen, who competes for the Netherlands, won gold in the women’s H1-4 cycling road race at the Tokyo Paralympics with a time of 56.15 on September 1. (H1-4 is a sport class for physical impairment.) Annika Zeyen of Germany won silver with a time of 56:21 and Alicia Dana of Team USA clinched a bronze medal with a time of 56:24. This victory marks Jansen’s 10th Paralympic medal—which she has amassed over seven different Paralympic Games and three sports—and comes 33 years after her first gold medal win.According to Olympics.com, the 53-year-old athlete won three gold medals in track events at her first Paralympic Games in Seoul 1988. Since then, she has won numerous silver and bronze medals across three sports: athletics, wheelchair basketball, and cycling. But she had yet to take home another gold medal after her first three in the 1980s. Until now.At the beginning of her Tokyo competition, gold didn’t seem like it was in the cards. On August 31, Jansen won bronze in the women’s H4-5 time trial (Oksana Masters won gold). She expressed her disappointment, but also acknowledged that the odds were not really in her favor. When it comes to sport classifications, lower numbers indicate a more severe activity limitation, the International Paralympic Committee explains. Jansen competes in the H4 category, so she can compete in both the 1-4 and 4-5 fields. (Jansen was born without fully developed legs, and had both limbs amputated when she was a child, according to Olympics.com.)”Yesterday [Tuesday] I was very disappointed I got the bronze medal,” the athlete said, according to Olympics.com. “When you look back, it was the highest result I could reach in the mixed class with H5, H4. On a course like this that is hilly, it’s impossible to win against the girls who have the power.”She added: “I was satisfied with it and I could enjoy it a little, but I was still hungry for the gold.”Then on Wednesday, while competing in the H1-4 classification in the road race, she achieved that goal with her first-place finish. “This was the race I was waiting for, and it was a very nice battle,” she said to Olympics.com.Jansen started her Paralympics career in athletics, then moved into wheelchair basketball. It wasn’t until 2012, after a break from competing after the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, that she took up hand cycling, according to the athlete’s personal website. She returned to the Paralympic stage for cycling at the Rio Games.While many people may choose to end their career after seven Paralympic Games and 10 Paralympic medals, Jansen says she isn’t quite done with sports yet.“I like sports very much, and it’s proving to myself I can still do this, although of course there will come a moment when the younger generation will pass me,” she said after her win, per Olympics.com. “Some day it will happen, but until that moment, I enjoy this.”Related:
Before the 2020 Paralympic Games, Oksana Masters already had proven herself as a versatile athlete. Her performance in Tokyo just emphasized how multitalented she really is.On August 30, Masters won gold (45:40.05) in the women’s road cycling time trial in the H4-5 classification, finishing ahead of Sun Bianbian of China, who won silver with a time of 47:26.53 and Jennette Jansen of the Netherlands, who clinched bronze in 48:45.69. (H4-5 is a sport class for physical impairment.) The win marks nine total Paralympic medals for the multi-sport athlete: The 32-year-old has medaled in rowing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, and now road cycling.Masters’s gold-medal performance gains her entry into an exclusive club of athletes who have won gold medals in both the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games. According to NBC Sports, she’s only the fourth U.S. woman and sixth American overall to accomplish this feat. Masters was born in Ukraine in 1989, just three years after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. She developed significant birth defects in-utero to her hands, feet, and legs, which were thought to be due to the radiation her birth mother was exposed to, according to the athlete’s personal website. After bouncing around to three different orphanages, she was adopted by a woman in Buffalo, New York. As a child and young teen, Masters had both of her legs amputated and multiple reconstructive surgeries to both of her hands. Then when she was 13, she tried rowing and found it gave her “a new sense of freedom and control,” as she explained on her website. She went on to win a bronze medal at the 2012 London Paralympic Games with her rowing partner Rob Jones; the pair earned the first-ever U.S. medal in trunk and arms mixed double sculls, according to Team USA.Next, she picked up skiing, and brought home two medals (silver and bronze) in Nordic skiing from the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games. According to Team USA, Masters took up cycling as a recovery activity after sustaining a back injury during her performance there. She went to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games for road cycling, though she wasn’t able to nab a medal. Masters then won an armful of medals at the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympic Games—her first gold medals, both in cross-country skiing events, plus two silver medals in biathlon events and a bronze in another cross-country skiing event.Masters turned to her experience in Rio, where she missed out on the podium, to push her toward her gold-medal performance in Tokyo.”The day after I crossed the finish line in Rio 2016 in fifth place…I knew exactly what I wish I did. I knew what I did wrong and I wanted to fix it,” Masters said after her win in Tokyo, according to Olympics.com. “To know that I fixed my wrongs from Rio and that I’m growing as a cyclist. This is unbelievable.”Her redemption is even more impressive considering she had to undergo an unexpected leg surgery just 100 days before the Tokyo Games. In an Instagram post from this past June, Masters said that she was still hopeful she’d make it to Tokyo.“There is still a small crack in the door to make it to Tokyo, and you better believe I am determined to make it through that small crack starting in Minnesota at the U.S. Para cycling trials,” she wrote.Because of this setback, she never expected to win, according to Olympics.com. “I was just trying to hold on and fight for third place,” she said. “I never in a million years thought I would be fighting for a gold medal at all.”Masters isn’t done yet in Tokyo—there are still two more chances for her to further bulk up her medal collection. On September 1, she’ll compete to win a potential 10th Paralympic medal in the women’s cycling road race H5, and then again the next day on the U.S. mixed H1-5 relay team. After Tokyo wraps up, she intends on competing again in the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games, which take place only six months from now.Related:
Runner Breanna Clark won gold in the women’s 400 meters in the T20 classification at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games on August 31, setting a new world record in the process with a time of 55.18 seconds. (The T20 classification is a sport class for intellectual impairment, according to World Para Athletics.)Yuliia Shuliar of Ukraine won a silver medal (56.19 seconds) and Jardenia Felix Barbosa da Silva of Brazil won a bronze medal (57.43).Oh, and that world record she broke? It was her own.With the win, 26-year-old Clark defended her title as reigning Paralympic champ in this event—she also finished first in the Rio Games with a time of 57.79. That victory in 2016 made Clark the first female U.S. athlete with an intellectual disability to ever win a Paralympic medal—let alone a gold medal—according to Athletes Without Limits. The two-time Paralympian was diagnosed with autism at age four and started participating in track and field in high school. She also ran on the women’s track team at Pasadena City College.“I like running because it makes me feel free,” Clark told the International Paralympic Committee. “I also like it because I’m good at it, which helps build my confidence. Also it lets me travel all over the world, meet new people, and try new foods.”In May 2020, Clark’s mother, Rosalyn (Bryant) Clark, was on the Tim Loves the Olympics podcast, where she explained that Clark has been playing sports since she was four or five, but that team sports like basketball and baseball seemed to cause too much sensory stimulation. When Breanna tried track, things were different. The individuality of the sport and lack of “outside noise” made it possible for the girl to focus and follow instructions, her mother said.Breanna Clark’s gold medal continues a family tradition of sorts. Her mother, who is also her coach, won a silver medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games in the 4×400-meter relay and placed fifth in the individual 400-meter race. And Clark’s twin brother, Rashard, has his fair share of championships and All-American titles under his belt from his time on the track-and-field team at Texas A&M University. (He’s also got a thing for the 400-meter distance.)Like many other Olympic and Paralympic athletes, Clark had to get creative with her training when the 2020 Paralympic Games were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Los Angeles Sentinel. “We turned our home into a gym,” Clark told the paper, adding that the family would also work out in parks and on the beach. Her mother ordered weights and other training equipment so they could run drills in the backyard or inside their home when they didn’t have access to a weight room.That helped her enter the 2020 Games ready to compete—and ready to break more records, something she’s been itching to do since 2018. At the Arizona Grand Prix that year (which doubled as the U.S. Nationals), Clark smashed her own world record in the 400 meters. Afterward she told reporters, “Breaking the world record takes hard work. I hope to break more records by next year and 2020,” according to World Para Athletics.With a 2020 Tokyo Games gold medal adorning her neck, it’s safe to say all of her hard work has officially paid off.Related:
On Monday, Team USA’s Mallory Weggemann won gold in the 100-meter backstroke S7 in a close race at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (S7 is a classification for physical impairment.) Her time of 1 minute, 21.27 seconds also broke the Paralympic record of 1:22.72, set in 2016 by Ke Liting of China. It was a double-podium event for Team USA: Weggemann’s teammate Julia Gaffney—the current world record holder for the event—won bronze with a time of 1:22.02, just shy of Canada’s Danielle Dorris, who secured silver with a time of 1:21.91. Team USA’s McKenzie Coan, who won gold the day before in the 400-meter freestyle S7, finished fourth to narrowly miss the podium.This isn’t the only gold medal Weggemann is taking home from Tokyo—nor is it the only time Team USA dominated on the podium. Earlier this week, the 32-year-old athlete won gold in the women’s 200-meter individual medley SM7, with fellow American Ahalya Lettenberger winning silver. We don’t hate this double-podium trend. “It’s remarkable to share the podium with a fellow Team USA teammate and see two flags go up,” Weggemann said to Team USA after the medal ceremony. “Two podiums, two golds. I couldn’t think of anything better right now.”The three-time Paralympian now has four Paralympic medals, according to Team USA. She took home two medals (gold in the 50-meter freestyle and bronze in the 4×100-meter medley) from the Paralympic Games London in 2012.In January 2008, Weggemann became paralyzed from the waist down after receiving an epidural injection to treat a bout of shingles, Sports Illustrated reports. A few months later her older sister took her to watch the 2008 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials at the University of Minnesota. That’s when she realized that her swimming career—she had been the captain of her high school swim team—didn’t need to be over. Maybe it could get a fresh start.“I looked at my sister and said, ‘How cool would it be if I could be here in four years?’” Weggemann told the magazine. “And that has kind of been marked as the day that the dream was born.”After that, Weggemann started her long and difficult journey, which began with learning how to move her body and how to rely on just her upper body to swim, and progressed to her winning major races. Then, at the London Games in 2012, Weggemann was unexpectedly reclassified from S7 to S8, a category for swimmers with a lower level of impairment. Despite her seemingly underdog status, Weggemann edged out the competition to win gold and set a U.S. and Paralympic record, according to Sports Illustrated.Then in 2014, Weggemann injured her arm, damaging the nerves and her ability to grip. It put her out of the pool for six months, and some doctors even said the injury would be permanent, the outlet reported. Still, Weggemann worked at rehabbing the arm and was able to qualify for and compete in four events at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janiero.Like most other Olympic and Paralympic athletes looking toward Tokyo, Weggemann found her plans disrupted yet again due to the postponement. Her local training facilities shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping her out of the pool for three months until she started using a colleague’s backyard pool to start training again, Insider reported. She told the publication she trained using a resistance band tied to the diving board until she could go back to a lap pool.With news of the postponed Games, Weggemann also delayed her plans to become a mom. She told Insider that she and her husband had always planned to have a baby after Tokyo, and the postponement was “heartbreaking.” “My logical athlete mentality kicked in, but my heart took a little while to catch up,” she said.Outside of the pool, Weggemann is an advocate for disabled athletes and co-CEO of the TFA Group, a social impact agency dedicated to highlighting adaptive athletes. Earlier this year she published her memoir, Limitless: The Power of Hope and Resilience to Overcome Circumstance.Weggemann still has a few more chances to bring home more bling from Tokyo. This week she’ll be vying for spots in the finals of the women’s 100-meter freestyle S7 on August 31, 50-meter freestyle S8 on September 1, and 50-meter butterfly S7 on September 3.Related:
Team USA’s Raven Saunders won silver in the shot put competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Sunday, with a distance of 19.79 meters. Lijiao Gong of China won gold, with a distance of 20.58, and Valerie Adams of New Zealand took home bronze, with a distance of 19.62.On the podium, Saunders—who competed in Rio in 2016 and placed fifth—held her arms up in the shape of an ‘X.’ When reporters in Tokyo asked what that meant, she explained: “It’s the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet,” AP News reported. Saunders is a proud member of the Black community and the LGBTQ+ community. She’s also very open and honest about the mental health challenges she has faced.“Being able to walk away with a medal and be able to go out here and really inspire so many people in the LGBTQ community, so many people who have been dealing with mental health issues,” she said, according to NPR. “So many people in the African-American community, so many people who are Black all around the world. I really just hope that I can continue to inspire and motivate.”Many outlets have questioned whether her gesture violates International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules against athletes protesting or making political statements on the podium. It’s unclear yet if the IOC considers this a violation, and if so, what potential penalties she may face, according to the BBC.Saunders, who goes by her alter ego the “Hulk” when she’s in competition mode, according to NPR, first made headlines in Tokyo during the qualifying rounds for wearing a face mask with The Joker’s likeness printed on it and sporting a half-green, half-purple hairstyle.USA Track and Field (USATF) tweeted a photo of her look with the caption, “That’s so Raven.”NPR reported that during the shot put finals, the 25-year-old was decked out in green, including green and white Air Jordan 13s, her green and purple hair, and her signature Hulk mask (which she sported at the Olympic Trials, too)—all of which, she says, serve in helping her get into her alter ego. This alternative personality is a way for Saunders to differentiate between herself as a person, and herself as an athlete. That’s something that took a lot of work for her to do, she says.While Saunders clearly isn’t afraid to show up, stand up, and be herself, it wasn’t an easy road to get there.
Last night, NBC announced that U.S. gymnast Mykayla Skinner will officially replace Simone Biles—who has withdrawn from all of her scheduled events in Tokyo so far—in the vault finals on Sunday. The announcement came just after Skinner had announced her gymnastics career was officially coming to a close. She had even booked her flight back home to Arizona, NBC reported.According to NBC, Skinner qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as an individual specialist, meaning that she was not part of the four-member gymnastics team, but was selected to represent Team USA in individual events. In the qualification round in Tokyo, Skinner placed fourth, a score that would typically qualify an athlete for the finals—except, there’s a two-athlete limit for individual events, and USA gymnasts Simone Biles and Jade Carey (also in Tokyo as an individual) finished first and second.In an emotional Instagram post on Tuesday, Skinner shared that she was closing the chapter of her gymnastics career, and with it, her dreams of winning an Olympic medal. At 24, she’s already the oldest woman to make a U.S. Olympic gymnastics team since 2004, according to Today.com. (Though she technically was not part of the team competition, she’s still on Team USA.) There’s no denying that gymnastics does a number on the body, making it a sport that trends really young.“Heartbroken is an understatement, but I am proud of myself for getting here after everything I’ve been through,” she wrote on Instagram. “I would have loved for my scores to count for the team and I would have loved to compete in event finals but I still did some of my best gymnastics here as an Olympian and that’s something no one can take away from me.”In her caption, Skinner also said, “The sport of gymnastics hasn’t been kind to me over the years.” This likely refers to the fact that despite winning countless medals in U.S. and World competitions over the years, and two different NCAA championships for floor and vault, she hasn’t actually had a chance to compete for an Olympic medal. Skinner was an alternate for the 2016 Olympic Team, and narrowly missed her opportunity to compete in finals in Tokyo.One can only imagine how she must have felt when she learned on Friday night that she had a reason to stay in Tokyo and put on her USA uniform one last time.Here’s what she posted on Instagram after finding out:Skinner can sub in for Biles because she got the scores needed to qualify earlier in the week. Unfortunately, there’s no other U.S. gymnast who got the qualifying scores necessary in the bars event, which Biles is also sitting out this Sunday. Suni Lee (who just won gold in the women’s all-around competition) will be the only American competing. Biles still has not announced whether she is withdrawing from her final two events, beam and floor. Similarly to bars, no other American woman can sub in for her, so if Biles withdraws, it will just be Lee on the bars and Carey on the floor repping Team USA on Monday.The vault competition is going to be fierce. According to NBC, Skinner and Carey both perform the same vault skills—the 2.5-twist known as an Amanar and a 1.5-twist front layout called a Cheng—and scored within three tenths of each other in qualifications. Rebeca Andrade from Brazil is also a top medal contender, and is coming off a silver medal win in the all-around competition, the first Olympic medal in gymnastics for the country of Brazil.If you’re really committed to gymnastics, you can watch the vault finals live on Sunday at 4:45 A.M. ET., or catch the primetime replay at a more reasonable 7:30 P.M. ET on NBC.