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“It’s a dream come true.” BYU-Idaho student competes in Tokyo Paralympics

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REXBURG —- A legally blind Brigham Young University-Idaho student competed in a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Tokyo Paralympics last week.

“It’s a dream come true. It just shows how much hard work, dedication, and perseverance pays off. You can do anything that you set your mind to,” said 20-year-old Taylor Talbot.

Talbot told EastIdahoNews.com she was in Tokyo for the Paralympics for 26 days in August and September, training and competing in track and field.

The Paralympics is a series of international contests for athletes with disabilities that are held after the summer and winter Olympics. The Paralympics offers opportunities for athletes with physical, vision, and intellectual impairments.

Talbot was born with a rare eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa. It is a genetic disorder that involves a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye.

In a July interview with EastIdahoNews.com, Talbot described what it’s like to see through her eyes.

RELATED: BYU-Idaho student headed to Tokyo to compete in Paralympics

“I have a really small pinhole of central vision. So it’s like looking through a drinking straw. It’s tunnel vision and it’s also really blurry,” she said.

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Taylor Talbot | Courtesy Taylor Talbot

This was the first time Talbot had been to Tokyo and participated in the Paralympics. Spectators were not allowed so she did not travel with her family but instead went with team USA consisting of nearly 70 males and females in track and field.

“We were required to do our daily COVID tests and then we had to fill out a survey on the OSHA app about our daily symptoms just to make sure that we were safe. All the necessary precautions were taken. We wore masks at all times except the basic rule of when eating and drinking and competing,” she said.

Talbot spent time at an Airforce base for the first 10 days of the trip. That’s where the track and field team trained.

“We learned a little bit about the Japanese culture. We got to see a lot of the planes at the base which was awesome,” she said.

For the rest of her time in Tokyo, she moved to what was known as the village. She could not go sightseeing but was able to experience Japanese culture by trying different food and shopping in the village.

“There were places in the village that we could go. It’s a thing there to trade pins. So each country has their own pin and I would trade USA athletic pins for an Australia pin. I traded for a couple of Japan pins and you basically just collect pins from other countries. It’s super cool,” Talbot said.

Talbot competed in the 100-meter and 400-meter races at the Paralympics.

“I didn’t make finals but I did get to run in prelims and it was just an amazing experience being in that stadium. It’s a big stadium when you watch it on TV but when you are actually there standing in it, it’s massive. It’s an overwhelming experience because you step into the stadium and you feel so small because there is just thousands and thousands of seats,” Talbot said. “The track is just beautiful and everything is just immaculate and when you step out there, you are just on this big stage in front of the whole world and you worked really hard to get to that point and so just realizing that all of your hard work has paid off and that its led up to this moment, that’s what just is completely out of this world.”

Talbot is hoping for another shot and is already looking forward to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

“I am definitely working towards that right now,” she said.

This fall, she’ll be returning to BYU-Idaho and she’ll be training again following an experience she’ll never forget.

“It was just incredible. The people there are so kind. They are just happy to serve. That’s actually one of the biggest things that stood out to me on the trip,” Talbot said.

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Taylor Talbot | Courtesy Taylor Talbot
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