College student wins gold in Tokyo

Photo courtesy of Queens University

CHARLOTTE – Queens University senior Hannah Aspden captured gold medals in the 110-meter backstroke and the 4x100m medley relay at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. 

Aspden won her individual gold medal on day six of the Games after recording a time of 1:09.22 in the 100m backstroke- S9. She advanced to the finals in the top spot after clocking a time of 1:09.83 in heat two of the prelims.

“It’s absolutely incredible,” said Aspden, who also won the 100-meter backstroke S9. “I came into the Games just being so thankful I had this opportunity to be able to compete. I didn’t think I would be going home with a medal, nevermind two gold medals. To be able to stand here with these amazing girls is incredible. I’m so proud of them.”

Aspden competed in the 4x100m medley relay along with Mikaela Jenkins, Jessica Long and Morgan Stickney. Aspden was first off the block recording a time of 1:10.04 in the backstroke portion of the race to give Team USA an early lead. Team USA finished the relay in 4:52.40 to take gold ahead of the Russian Paralympic Committee (4:55.55) and Australia (4:55.70).

“I have run out of tissues! Hannah has become our beacon of hope,” said Jeff Dugdale, Queens associate athletic director for strategic planning and leadership development/director of swimming operations. “Her passion and persistence are unwavering and steadfast. I watch with joy and feel so blessed that her experience was captured via the media so that the world can see what diversity looks like and even more important what inclusion looks like. Her post-race interviews showed empathy to all participants and the countries they come from knowing the struggles all endured. Mindset not classification is what level sets all humans. The Queens community cannot wait to welcome her home!”

A native of Raleigh, Aspden was born without a left leg and began her national team career at age 13. 

At age 16, she became the youngest U.S. swimmer to medal at either the Olympics or Paralympics in Rio in 2016, where she took home two bronze medals finishing third in the 100-meter backstroke- S9 and the 4x100m medley relay- 34 points. 

She joined the Queens swim team in 2018. The multimedia storytelling major will return to Queens following the Paralympic Games to complete her senior year of competition with the Royals.

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