Before Becca Meyers qualified for the 2020 Paralympic Games, she won six medals in the last two Paralympic Games. She also swam for F&M College in 2015 and 2016.
LANCASTER, Pa .– A 26-year-old Paralympic swimmer withdrew from the Tokyo Games on Tuesday after being denied a personal care assistant (PCA).
Before Becca Meyers qualified for the 2020 Paralympic Games, she won six medals at the last two Paralympic Games in London and Rio.
She also swam for F&M College in 2015 and 2016.
Meyers suffers from Usher syndrome, which causes deafness and progressive loss of sight.
His former coach, F&M Swimming Head Coach Ben Delia, said Meyers had had a few adaptations during competitions. For example, instead of triggering events at the sound of a buzzer or a horn, a light was placed at his feet to alert him of departure. Otherwise, his training was not much different from that of the other members of the team.
“In many ways it’s the same. It’s every swimmer who pushes himself, tries to be his best. In Becca’s case, she is one of the hardest workers I have ever coached, ”said Delia.
When traveling overseas, Meyers’ mother acts as her PCA to help her navigate new environments, like the Olympic Village in Tokyo.
But amid the drastic COVID restrictions, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) told Meyers it couldn’t bring in a PCA.
Meyers made the announcement that she was withdrawing from the Games in a ‘Heartbreaking’ Twitter ad.
Disability rights advocates were quick to condemn the USOPC’s decision.
“Every athlete that goes there has some kind of assistive device to help them move or hear, so that denies them that assistive device,” said Sherri Landis, executive director of the Pennsylvania Arc. “It’s no longer a level playing field. Now they choose which handicap their support device is entitled to, no matter what that looks like.
Meyers wrote that she had trained for five years for the 2020 Paralympic Games and was deeply disappointed not to go, but that she “spoke for future generations of Paralympic athletes.”
To have first-hand knowledge of how important swimming to Becca is and how much effort and time she puts into it, forcing her to make that terrible decision to retire from the game, so close, is heartbreaking, ”said Delia.
The USOPC wrote in a statement,
“The decisions we have made on behalf of the team have not been easy and we are heartbroken for the athletes who may not have access to their previous support resources. “
The Paralympic Games will take place from August 24 to September 5.
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