Melissa Stockwell, who will appear in Sioux City on Sept. 30, will be one of two American athletes carrying the U.S. flag into Toyoko Stadium Tuesday morning during the opening ceremony for the 2020 Paralympic Games.
Stockwell, 41, and wheelchair rugby player Chuck Aoki, a two-time Paralympic medalist, were selected as Team USA’s flag bearers for the opening ceremony in Tokoko. Aoki and Stockwell, chosen by a vote of fellow USA athletes, are the first duo to share the honor of leading the delegation during the ceremony.
“I am so honored and humbled to be chosen by my peers as one of the flag bearers for Team USA," Stockwell said in a statement. "As a veteran, carrying the American flag and representing my sport (triathlon), my country, my Paralympic family and my team — that is an incredible honor. The Paralympics are a showcase of what we can overcome with the power of the human body and the human spirit, and I’m just so proud of where my story has brought me."
Three weeks after she was deployed to Iraq in March 2004, she lost her left leg above the knee after a roadside bomb struck her Humvee when she was leading a convoy in Baghdad. The first woman in the armed services to lose a limb in active combat, she was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
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After a series of surgeries and infections, Stockwell turned her attention to becoming a competitive athlete, and was the first Iraq War veteran to qualify for the Paralympics.
She competed in three swimming events at the 2008 Paralympic Games in China. That year, she was selected to carry the U.S. flag at the closing ceremonies.
In 2016, she won the bronze medal in the inaugural Paralympic triathlon event in Rio, alongside teammates Allysa Seely and Hailey Danz.
At the Toyoko Games, the Paralympic triathlon events will take place Aug. 27-28 at 6:30 p.m. CT in the U.S. Triathletes cover a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run.