Athletes with U of M connections in the Paralympics
Update: A summary of each athlete's success in Tokyo is highlighted in italics.
If you enjoyed watching or following athletes with a University of Minnesota connection at the recent Summer Olympics in Tokyo, there’s more in store. Four athletes with U of M connections will be among the approximately 4,400 competitors at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which will be held Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.
Here is some background information on each of the athletes, with accomplishments as listed on the Team USA website.
Chuck Aoki — Wheelchair Rugby
Chuck Aoki will be competing in his third Paralympic Games in wheelchair rugby. He won a silver medal in the Paralympics in Rio in 2016 and a bronze in London in 2012.
Aoki, a U of M graduate in public policy, has used a wheelchair for most of his life due to 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. He played wheelchair basketball for 11 years and then switched to rugby after watching the 2005 movie "Murderball." He was named the U.S. Quad Rugby Association’s Athlete of the Year in 2011.
Update: Aoki and Team USA won the silver medal for the second straight Paralympics, losing to Great Britain 54-49 in a hard-fought gold medal game.
Mallory Weggemann — Swimming
Mallory Weggemann grew up in Eagan, Minn., and got her degree in public relations at the University of Minnesota. Also a three-time Paralympian, Weggemann won two medals in London in 2012—a gold in the 50-meter freestyle and a bronze in the 4x100-meter medley. She has also won multiple medals at world championships.
Weggemann lost movement from her waist down after receiving a series of epidural injections for shingles. A few months later, one of her sisters took her to the University of Minnesota to watch the U.S. Team Trials for the 2008 Paralympic Games, where she was inspired to get back into swimming.
Update: Weggemann claimed a spot on the podium multiple times at Tokyo. She won gold in the 100-meter backstroke and 200-meter individual medley, silver in the 50-meter butterfly, and took 5th in the 100-meter freestyle.
Ian Seidenfeld — Table Tennis
Ian Seidenfeld, a native of Lakeville, Minn., is a student at the University of Minnesota in the Carlson School of Management studying finance and entrepreneurial management.
His father, Mitchell, a four-time Paralympic medalist in table tennis himself, organized a junior coaching program, and Ian began to accompany him when he was about 5 or 6 years old. His goal became to compete in the Paralympics and win a medal.
Update: Seidenfeld fulfilled his dream, defeating the world’s No. 1 player and defending Paralympic champion Peter Rosenmeier of Denmark 3-0 to capture the gold medal in men’s table tennis Class 6.
Benjamin Goodrich — Judo
Benjamin Goodrich will be competing in his second Paralympic Games, having finished ninth at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. He also competed in the World Championships in 2014, 2018, and 2019.
Born and raised in St. Paul, Goodrich earned degrees in accounting and finance from the University of Minnesota. He started judo in 2011 when he was 19 years old; he took judo as a physical education elective course at the U of M and enjoyed it so much that he joined the North Star Judo Club.
Update: Goodrich took home a silver medal in Tokyo, losing in the finale of the men’s 100-kilogram judo competition to Christopher Skelley of Great Britain.
- Sports and Recreation