Olympics

7-time Paralympian Jen Armbruster recalls top Summer Games moments

/ by Jamie Hudson
Presented By Toyota
Olympics

Seven-time Paralympian Jen Armbruster was elected to carry the American flag during the opening ceremonies at the Beijing games in 2008.

As a member of the U.S. Women’s Goalball Team, she competed in Summer Games from 1992-2016, while earning a gold medal from the Beijing games in 2008, a silver medal from Athens in 2004, and a bronze medal from Atlanta in 1996.

In a recent interview with NBC, Armbruster reminisced about her Summer Games experience.

“For me, it’s a chance to represent my country, my family, my friends,” Armbruster said. “Growing up as a military kid, I always wanted to put a uniform on for the United State of America and when I lost my vision as a teenager, the military wasn’t an option so this was a way for me to be able to represent my country.”

It was always a lifelong goal of mine to also represent the U.S. at the Olympic and Paralympic level, but in a different sport. So that changed a little bit when I lost my vision, but I still had the opportunity to put on the red, white, and blue.

Jen Armbruster

Armbruster began losing her eyesight at age 14 after experiencing pain in both eyes.

She discovered the sport of goalball after a teacher at a local school for the blind in Colorado read an article on Armbruster and encouraged her to try it.

 

When reminiscing about her Paralympic experiences, Armbruster has two Summer Games that always come to mind.

“From a personal level, it was probably still the first Games in 1992 because I actually went totally blind two days before we left for the Games. So, I was legally blind, but being around other folks that had lost their vision for different reasons – I was a 17-year old kid and just being around other adults that did have families, that went to college, that had careers – was obviously impactful from a personal standpoint.” 

But fast forward to 2008 in the Beijing Paralympic Games when Armbruster won gold and was a US flag bearer, that was a time in her life that will always be so special.

“On a professional part, for sure -- Beijing. It was a fairy tale. A lot of people thought that those were going to be my last Games. I’m not sure where they got that from,” Armbruster recalled with a smile. 

To do the Opening Ceremonies, being a flag bearer there, to fighting our way into the Semis and then playing China on their home field -- it was just a fairy tale moment. That was definitely the highlight of my career that I remember the most.

Jen Armbruster

After growing up in Colorado, Armbruster now calls Portland, Oregon her home.

She currently works as the Inclusive Rec & Fitness Center Coordinator at Portland State University.