Olympic silver medalist Rosalyn Clark usually brings her daughter, Breanna, when she visits Trinity Elementary School for the ‘Ready, Set, Gold!’ mentoring program. ‘Ready, Set, Gold!’ brings Olympians to schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District to teach kids how to prioritize fitness and health.
The visits have a new meaning now that Breanna won a gold medal in the 400-meter event at the 2016 Paralympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“They want their autograph signed,” Breanna said about the students.
Rosalyn mentioned how the students want to see Breanna run.
“Everybody wants to race her, all of the kids,” Rosalyn said.
Since Breanna lives with autism, she competed in women’s 400 meters T20, the sporting class for people who have intellectual impairment. Breanna was the only representative of Team USA in the event. She advanced through the preliminary heat in 58.25 seconds.
The next day was the final round and Breanna was the top seed, going up against Hungary, Poland, Malaysia, and Ukraine.
“I was a bit nervous at the start,” Breanna said. “What was going through my mind was me taking the lead.”
In 57.79 seconds, Breanna bested her opponents to earn the gold medal. Natalia Iezlovetska of Ukraine earned silver with 58.48 seconds and Barbara Niewiedzial from Poland came in third with 58.51 seconds.
“It was a remarkable moment, unforgettable,” Breanna said about being awarded the gold medal.
Rosalyn coached her for the Paralympic games, their training includes imagery and breathing exercises along with physical training.
“We see [ourselves] going through the race, what we’re supposed to do from start to finish and this is part of her warm-up,” Rosalyn said. “We have breathing exercises to help us relax and we just talk about all the hard work that we have put into it.”
The road to the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro was not easy, but the Clark family was committed to exposing Breanna’s talent on the world stage.
“The examples that I set, I like them to be positive,” Rosalyn said. “We had some highs, some lows, but it just made the gold medal even sweeter.”
Another challenge came when the family reached Rio and Breanna had to stay in the Paralympic village, this separated her from Rosalyn. She also was unable to see Breanna during practices at the stadium.
“I was a little worried, but I was able to meet new people,” Breanna said about her time in the Paralympic village.
After some initial anxiety, the separation helped Breanna become more independent, according to Rosalyn.
“I wasn’t able to get in to see her or give her instructions daily and that was my fear,” Rosalyn said. “But she handled it well, she got over the obstacles. Everything worked out, God is good.”
Since Breanna has returned from the Paralympics, she still trains as she is preparing for the World Championships in London with hopes of breaking the world record.
“We were so close this time,” Rosalyn said. “So, that’s what we’re going for this year, the world record.”