“Unsinkable”:  From Orphan to Olympian

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    Unsinkable by Jessica Long is an inspirational autobiography of a Russian Paralympic swimmer. It is a motivating story that narrates Jessica’s rise to international glory. Jessica is a 26-year old swimmer who has won a total of 23 Paralympic medals, starting with her first gold medal in the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games at age 12.

    Jessica was originally born in Irkutsk, Russia in 1992. Her mother was only 17 when Jessica was born and didn’t have enough money and resources to take care of herself and Jessica, so she put Jessica up for adoption. At age 13 months, Jessica was adopted by the Long family from Baltimore. Jessica was born with a condition called Fibular Hemimelia, a shortening of the fibula at birth or a complete lack thereof.  Five months after being adopted, she had both of her legs amputated. She started using prosthetics soon thereafter, so they became part of her everyday life. When she was a child, she competed in many different sports including gymnastics, basketball, cheerleading, ice skating, biking, running, rock climbing, and of course the sport for which she became famous, swimming.

    Despite her disability, Jessica found a way to do the things she loved and to gain confidence in herself. She competed in four summer Paralympic Games and earned a total of 13 gold, 6 silver, and 3 bronze medals over the course of her career to date. As she gained notoriety after the 2004 Paralympics, many companies reached out to Jessica offering sponsorships and modeling jobs. Because she could only accept payment for jobs if she was a professional athlete, at the age of 15 she became one of the youngest professional athletes in history. Jessica is planning to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, so look for her to make a splash at the games!