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Sprinter Cheri Madsen wins third 100m Paralympic medal – 25 years after her first

2020 Tokyo Paralympics - Day 8

TOKYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 01: Bronze medalist Cheri Madsen of Team United States poses on the podium at the medal ceremony for the Women’s 100m - T54 on day 8 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 01, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

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Cheri Madsen earned the bronze medal in the women’s 100m T54 on Wednesday at what she says will be her final Paralympic Games – though she’s said that before.

Madsen, who turns 45 later this month, now owns nine Paralympic medals spread over 25 years, with a 13-year retirement included there.

“It feels really good, I’ve worked really hard,” Madsen told media of her Tokyo performance. “Winning this medal, to me this’ll mean that every Paralympics I’ve ever been to I’ve medaled. I’m very happy that I was able to pull that off.”

A member of the Omaha tribe, Madsen has been paralyzed since age 3 when her body was attacked by an unknown virus. She took up wheelchair racing in 1994 and made her Paralympic debut in Atlanta two years later.

Then 19, Madsen medaled in all four of her races with silver in the 100 and 200, and bronze in the 400 and 800. She also earned bronze in an Olympic exhibition 800m that year.

Her first Paralympic golds came at the Sydney 2000 Games in the 100 and 400; she also took silver in the 200 and was fourth in the 800. Madsen retired at 24 years old to start a family.

Now a mother of two daughters, she returned to competition in 2013 as a way to honor the memory of her father and brother, who died in a 2007 car accident.

Neither age nor time off slowed her down. Madsen has since won seven medals at the past four world championships, plus 200m silver at the Rio Paralympics.

She was second in her 100m heat Wednesday morning in Tokyo in 16.60 seconds, then ran a season’s best 16.33 seconds in the final to take bronze.

China’s Zhou Zhaoqian won in 15.90 for her second gold of the meet. Finland’s Amanda Kotaja took silver in 15.93. American Hannah Dederick was fourth, 0.03 seconds behind Madsen.

“I’m just trying to give it all that I can for my last Games,” Madsen said. “This is it.”

Her final Paralympic race will be Thursday’s 400m T54.

Three other Americans medaled in Wednesday’s track and field competition.

Nick Mayhugh, who had won the 100m T37 in world-record time, took silver in the 400m T37 – the first international race of his career at that distance. He set an American record of 50.26 seconds, behind Russian Andrei Vdovin, who won in a world record 49.34.

Trenten Merrill also set an American record, placing third in the long jump T64 at 7.08 meters.

Reigning world champion Josh Cinnamo took bronze in the shot put F46 at his Paralympic debut with a season’s best throw of 15.90 meters.

A full Paralympic Games broadcast schedule is available here. Events can also be streamed on and the NBC Sports app, with more info available here.

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