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Miami Valley native prepares to defend gold medal at Paralympics

Greene County native Grace Norman is getting ready to defend her gold medal in Tokyo.

Monday, she learned she made USA’s Paralympic team.

This is her second games after she finished first in the triathlon in Brazil in 2016.

She understands these games will be different. Her coach, family, and boyfriend will not be with her because of the games’ ban on international fans.

“The games is a really cool time to share with everyone who’s put into your journey, so I think that’s going to be one of the biggest things that’s going to be amiss at the games this year,” Norman said.

Delaying the Olympics from last year to this year gave Norman more time to train in the Midwest. She is working out in Indiana about four hours from her family in Jamestown.

Norman is training in an area with temperatures in the 90s and high humidity. Her coach isn’t letting up on her training.

“In the last three days she’s ridden over 120 miles, climbed about 8,000 feet, we’ve done open water swimming in lakes, strength and mobility,” Norman’s coach Greg Mueller said.

He has been working with Norman for almost a year. The 23-year-old was born missing her left foot and the big toe on her right foot.

“One of the things I didn’t necessarily understand, not having worked with a Paralympian, what is her degree of fitness and what amount of work can she tolerate,” Mueller said.

He found out just how intense of an athlete Norman is.

“Her degree of fitness is at a very high level for someone who has both feet, so if she competed in a triathlon, she might, very likely or probably would win that event,” Mueller said.

That is exactly what she hopes to do in Tokyo.

“I will be happy with what I place if I give my best and completed the process,” Norman said.