The 2016 Paralympic Games were held last fall in Rio de Janeiro from Sept. 7 to 18, after the Olympic Games. More than 4,300 Olympians participated in the many events. The Paralympic Games are held for people with disabilities such as those who have lost arms or legs, are blind or have mental disabilities. Some of the sports they competed in were running, swimming, archery, soccer, tennis and cycling.
One Paralympic gold medal winner was from East Northport. His name is Michael (Mikey) Brannigan, and he won the 1,500-meter race. Mikey, 20, went to our school and graduated from Northport High School. Mikey has autism. Mikey started running when he was 6 with the Rolling Thunder Special Needs Program. He has won so many trophies (more than 100!) that he keeps them in a glass case in his house.
Mikey said there is a lot that a runner needs to do to get ready for a race. Before he runs, he eats pasta and drinks a lot of water. But most importantly, he said, when he runs he tries to stay comfortable and relaxed.
When Mikey is not running he likes to watch sports on TV and listen to rock music.
In February 2015, Mikey was named Sports Illustrated Magazine High School Athlete of the Month (nwsdy.li/mikey). After graduating from Northport High School in 2015, he started running for the New York Athletic Club (NYAC). He then went to Rio, where he won gold.
Running is such an important part of Mikey’s life that some day he would like to own a running supply store. Mikey participated in the 2016 Thanksgiving Day parade with other Team U.S.A. Olympians. He is looking forward to participating in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.