My best 2012 Baltimore sports story is Jessica Long…and yours will be too!

December 31, 2012 | Nestor Aparicio

in the wake of another Gold-drenched Paralympic Games journey to London. And perhaps you’ll be following her story to Rio in 2016 and beyond as well. After all, she’s only 20.

If Phelps’ 21 gold medals makes him the king of Olympic swimming then Long’s 17 medals certainly makes her the reigning queen of the Paralympic realm and 2012 has been quite a year for her.

It involves sports. It involves love. It involves family. It involves Siberia. It involves swimming and the Olympics. It involves London and Moscow and Russian television shows and fellow Paralympians.






Somehow I bet you don’t know this story. But it’s my favorite of 2012.

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This summer, the folks at Visa asked me to write four blogs about the Olympics and Visa Go World Olympic athletes via a campaign to bring awareness to some storylines during the games. I wrote two blogs about Michael Phelps and another about the allure of beach volleyball at the Olympics.

When I saw that Jessica Long was a Visa athlete, I knew I was going to write about her but it couldn’t really happen until she was competing, which was several weeks after the Closing Ceremonies and right in the middle of the Ravens’ season and the Orioles’ pennant chase.

She left for London and I tried during the Paralympic Games to monitor her success – and like Michael Phelps, she was literally winning medals almost every day. I heavily researched the story – watching many videos on YouTube and various websites everywhere that draw strength from her accomplishments — and I was going to write about meeting her a few years ago when she was honored by then-County Executive Jim Smith.

I know her swimming coach via my Facebook universe and tried to chase her down via cyberspace and we just never connected because as I’d later find out, she was a tad bit preoccupied in London and not just with swimming for medals.

I just figured I’d catch up with her when she returned and write something about her experiences or maybe even do a video segment with her.

Had I posted the story in early September, without really chatting with her, it would’ve had this kind of information: