Paralympian Deja Young fought shoulder dystocia to 'find herself'
US track and field athlete Deja Young, 25 is currently one of the USA's most successful Para-athletes. The Tokyo Paralympics are set to start on August 24, and Team USA has pinned their hopes on the 25-year-old para-athlete. The Paralympics will feature 22 sports this year with Badminton and Taekwondo making their debut. 4,537 athletes of 163 nations are set to participate in the 540 events in this year's Paralympics.
One-time Paralympian Deja Young, who participates in the T46 sprinting events, won two gold medals at the Rio Paralympics in 2016. Deja Young won 4 gold medals and 2 silver medals at the World Championship events between the years 2015 to 2019. Young was a member of the United States team that won the first world championship gold medal in the universal 4x100m relay in 2019. Deja Young was born with brachial plexus or shoulder dystocia which caused nerve damage and limited mobility in her right shoulder. If reports are to be believed, it was caused during childbirth by a doctor who pulled on her head too hard for her right shoulder to dislocate. Young had to undergo three surgeries in order to reduce her discomfort.
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Despite being a standout on her high school track team, Deja Young received a lot of resistance from recruiters and college coaches because of her disability. She earned a track scholarship to Wichita State University and learned about the Paralympics at a college meet. "I have been running for years but I didn't discover Para-athletics until I was asked at one of my college meets, " Young said. Talking about why she chose this sport, Young said, "The community was so inviting and it allowed me to not only travel but to find myself."
Prior to the 2016 Rio Paralympics, Young struggled with depression and attempted suicide. However, she recovered and went on to compete in the Games and won two gold medals. Later, Young struggled with another bout of depression in 2016 after she was involved in a serious car accident that tore her right wrist and fractured her left wrist. In a profile published on the International Paralympic Committee website, Deja Young said of the incident, "It was a long process and very mentally draining. I went through a very deep depression and it was really hard. What got me through was focusing on my love for athletics. Giving up on it wasn't an option as it had got me so far and I knew it could take me further. I knew that my story could not only help myself but help others. That's one of my biggest things, I want to do more. I want to speak on mental health, on breaking down barriers. I like to tell people that you take care of your body because you want to stay healthy, your mind is the same. Your mind needs to be fed positive things. They both need to be healthy for you to function." Young served as an athlete mentor as part of the Sports Envoy Program of the US State Department to Nigeria in 2018.