Lex Gillette—a world record holder and national champion in the long jump—has had to navigate change before. At age 8, doctors diagnosed him with detached retinas, and couldn’t save his sight despite multiple surgeries. Though the transition wasn’t easy, Lex credits his support system—and the confidence they inspired in him—with getting him through.

 

Even after he became an elite Paralympic track and field athlete, Lex faced injuries and other setbacks—including a long jump gone wrong on the world stage that required a near-instant recalibration, a story he retells dramatically on this week’s episode. 

 

So this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic delayed what would be his fifth Games in Tokyo, Lex was as well poised as anyone to find a new way forward. He took some time to be disappointed—after all, every athlete mourns a goal deferred—then set to work appreciating what he could do with the extra time. 

 

The one constant in life is change, he realizes, and it’s the ability to steer through uncertainty that enables you to reach whatever goal matters most.

 

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In this episode, we discuss:

  • Lex’s early years, including his vision loss (4:38)
  • When and how he found out about the Paralympics being rescheduled, and what he felt about it (6:47)
  • How injuries are viewed in Paralympic track and field (12:18)
  • His first major injury, and how important an engaged health care team was to his recovery (14:08)
  • How he learned to ask for help when he needed it, and what a difference it’s made in his life (24:10)
  • Why he thinks some people don’t ask for support (27:56)
  • How leaning on others has been like a trampoline, propelling him to greatness (30:52)
  • The ways he’s learned to focus on what he can do instead of what he can’t—the cane instead of the blindfold (34:28)
  • His injury that happened during the 2015 World Championships and how he regrouped—including the importance of his relationship with his guide (37:24)
  • Why his mantra is “No need for sight when you have a vision,” and how any athlete can use that right now (49:47)

 

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