Minnesotans enjoy a golden Paralympics; 11 win medals

Minnesotans enjoy a golden Paralympics; 11 win medals

Minnesota athletes brought home a slew of medals, including five golds, during the Tokyo Paralympics.

Of 11 Minnesota medalists, Eagan’s Mallory Weggemann led the way with three swimming medals – two gold and one silver.

Weggemann won gold in the 200-meter individual medley and the 100 backstroke, setting new Paralympic records. She took silver in the 50-meter butterfly.

She competed in six events in Tokyo at S7 classification, finishing fifth in the 100 freestyle and seventh in the 50 freestyle. She didn’t make the finals in the 100 breaststroke.

Competing in her third Paralympics, she now has five medals. She won gold and bronze in two events in 2012.

Weggemann, 32, is an Eagan High School and University of Minnesota graduate. She became paraplegic after an epidural injection to treat back pain in 2008. She is a motivational speaker and is featured in the documentary The Current.

Ian Seidenfeld won gold in Class 6 men’s table tennis. The Lakeville native bested defending champion and top-ranked player Peter Rosenmeier, Denmark.

Seidenfeld, 20, is a second-generation table tennis Paralympian. His father, U.S. coach Mitchell Seidenfeld, is a four-time Paralympic medalist. Mitchell Seidenfeld won gold in 1992 in Barcelona and is in the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame.

Ian Seidenfeld is a student at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. He and his father have psuedoachondroplasia dwarfism.

Alexis “Lexi” Shifflett is a setter on the gold medal-winning sitting volleyball team. She didn’t play in the gold medal match, which the U.S. women won 3-1 over China.

Shifflett is a Waseca High School graduate, where she played softball and volleyball. She is also a graduate of DeVry University.

Shifflett was born with fibular hemimelia. This is the second time she has been on the championship volleyball team.

Josh Turek is on the gold medal-winning men’s wheelchair basketball team for the second time.The 42-year-old competed in four Paralympics, retiring after Tokyo. He averaged 6.5 points per game in 2021, including a 21-point performance against Algeria in pool play.

Turek is Southwest Minnesota State’s career leading scorer. He played professionally in Europe for 17 seasons.

A native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, he graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School.

Veteran wheelchair rugby players Chuck Aoki and Joe Delagrave were on the silver medal team, losing to Great Britain in the finals.

Aoki was the team’s leading scorer in Tokyo, averaging 21.8 tries in five matches. He won silver as part of the team in Rio in 2016 and bronze in 2012 in London.

Aoki, 30, is a graduate of Minneapolis Southwest High School. He holds a degree in secondary education from Metropolitan State University, in public policy from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and a Ph.D.. in international relations/comparative politics from the University of Denver.

He has a genetic condition called hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathies type II, which results in him not having feeling in his body below the knees and elbows.

Delagrave was one of the co-captains. He and Aoki were teammates and medalists in London and Rio as well as in Tokyo.

A graduate of Prairie du Chien High School, Delagrave played football at Winona State University. He also attended University of Northwestern-St. Paul for pastoral studies and Grand Canyon University to study professional counseling.

Delagrave has used a wheelchair since a 2004 boating accident. He is married with three children.

Another silver medalist is Ben Goodrich, who lost in the men’s 100-kilogram final to Great Britain’s Christopher Skelley. Goodrich, 28, was in his second Paralympics.

Goodrich is from St. Paul and is a Concordia High School (Roseville) and University of Minnesota graduate.

He was a multi-sport athlete in high school, and was athlete of the year as a senior. He didn’t start in judo until age 19. Goodrich has visual disabilities.

Josh Cinnamo of Lakeville is one of Minnesota’s bronze medal winners, taking third place in the shot put. The 40-year-old medaled in his first-ever Paralympics, and is the reigning world champion in and world record holder in the F46 classification at 16.80 meters.

Cinnamo is from San Diego, and graduated from Morse High School there. He is also a graduate of Luther College in Iowa. In college he competed in football and track and field events.

Cinnamo was born with a congenital limb deficiency of his right arm. He is married and has two children.

Three Minnesota women who are members of the Team USA wheelchair basketball team took home bronze medals. Josie Aslakson, Abby Bauleke and Rose Hollermann were teammates.

The United States came into the games as defending champs but lost to China in the semifinals. Team USA defeated Germany for third place.

Hollermann, 25, is from Elysian. She competed in her third Paralympics, and was the second-leading scorer.

She is a graduate of Waterville-Elysian-Morristown High School and University of Texas-Arlington. A 2001 motor vehicle accident took the lives of two brothers and caused Hollermann to be partially paralyzed from the waist down.

In 2011, she became one of the youngest players on the U.S. women’s wheelchair basketball team at age 15. She played collegiate basketball and currently plays professionally in Spain.

Aslakson and Bauleke were in their first Paralympics. Asklason, 25, is from Jordan and is a Jordan High School graduate She attended the University of Texas-Arlington, then transferred to New York University to study dramatic writing. She has also attended the University of Arizona for global studies.

Aslakson was paralyzed from the waist down at age 5, as a result of a car accident. She discovered basketball at age 13 while at an archery lesson at Courage Kenny.

Bauleke, 20, is from Savage and is a Burnsville High School graduate. She attends the University of Alabama. A childhood illness left her unable to walk.

Other Minnesotans didn’t medal. Aaron Pike, Park Rapids competed in four events in his fifth Paralympics. His best finish wassixth in the T54 men’s marathon. He was also in three track events.

Summer Schmit,Stillwater, swam in her first Paralympics. Schmit finishedfifth in the women’s S9 200-meter individual medley, sixth in the S9 100-meter butterfly and seventh in the S9 400-meter freestyle.

Natalie Sims, Edina, swam in her second Paralympics. She competed in four events, finishing eighth in the women’s S9 400-meter freestyle final and seventh in the women’s S9 100 freestyle final.

Melissa Stockwell of Eden Prairie finishedfifth in the women’s PTS2 classification in 1:21:25. She and Aoki were Team USA’s flag bearers in the opening ceremonies.

Classifications are determined for each Paralympics athlete and provide a structure for competition. Classification determines who is eligible to compete in a sport and groups the eligible athletes in sport classes according to their activity limitations.