Jessica-Jane Applegate is a 16-year-old suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, who has just bagged gold in the 200 meters freestyle in the Intellectual Disability category.
She almost didn’t make it, and was forced to have an operation on the big toe of her left foot just a month before the games. But despite being‘in pain she moved into first place with just 50m to go, setting a personal best as well as a Paralympic and British record, to boot.
On top of this, London 2012 is the first Paralympic games since Sydney 2000 to include an intellectual disability category. The category was temporarily banned after Sydney when it was discovered that none of the Spanish gold medal-winning basketball team contained no players with an intellectual impairment and that one was actually a professional.
However, a new groundbreaking system has now been put in place to gauge how an athlete’s impairment affects their physical disability. This means that for the first time in 12 years, swimming, athletics and table tennis all have an Intellectual Disability qualification.
Which is amazing news for Jessica and for us.