Stockton’s Roderick Townsend-Roberts did it again.
The 24-year-old graduate of Lincoln High and Delta College earned his second gold medal and second Paralympics record in 48 hours with his victory in the men’s high jump T47 on Friday in Rio de Janeiro. Townsend-Roberts cleared 2.09 meters (6 feet, 8 ½ inches) and added another memorable achievement in his incredible Paralympics debut.
“It’s extremely humbling,” said Townsend in a news release by the U.S. Olympic Committee. “Regardless of how I feel like I should’ve performed, when it comes down to it, I won two gold medals and that’s always the goal at the Games, to walk away with a victory.”
Townsend-Roberts attempted to break his own high jump world record but failed on all three attempts at 2.13 meters. Townsend-Roberts’ first attempt in Friday’s competition was at the 1.99-meter mark. He cleared that height and the next three before he attempted to top the world-record, 2.12-meter height he cleared last year at the Parapan American Games in Toronto.
Townsend-Roberts was the only competitor who cleared 2.02 meters. He did that on his first attempt. He also cleared 2.05 and 2.09 meters on his first attempt before he knocked the bar off three times at 2.13 meters. Hongjie Chen of China won the silver medal and Aaron Chatman of Australia earned the bronze. Both cleared 1.99 meters but Chen did so in fewer attempts. Chen owned the previous Paralympics record of 2.01 meters.
Townsend-Roberts had the crowd going prior to each jump and took a victory lap, waving the American flag, around the stadium’s track.
Townsend-Roberts had the crowd going on Wednesday when he earned a gold medal in the men’s long jump T47 with a leap of 24-3.73 to beat China’s Hao Wang in the fifth round out of six.
Last Sunday, Townsend-Roberts placed fifth in the men’s 100-meter dash T47 with a personal-best time of 11.08 seconds.
Townsend-Roberts played football and competed in track and field at Lincoln and Delta before he accepted a track and field scholarship to Boise State, where he graduated in 2015 and was a five-time All-Mountain West Conference selection.
Townsend-Roberts sustained permanent nerve damage to his right shoulder, neck and arm at birth and last year was classified as a Paralympic athlete. The 6-foot-7, 210-pounder, coaches jumps at Northern Arizona University and trains at times in Stockton with jumps coach Lester Bond and Bear Creek and Delta alum Eric Sloan, a senior jumper at USC.