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Evansville native back in the U.S. after Paralympic Games

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 6:48 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Evansville native Mikaela Jenkins is back in the United States with two Paralympic gold medals in her luggage.

After her time in Tokyo, the gold medalist immediately flew into Pennsylvania to start her freshman year at Grove City College.

Looking back on her time during the Games, she says winning gold was a moment that seemed too good to be true at first.

“It was really hard to see the ‘1’ by my name,” says Mikaela, “so I was like, ‘did I do it?’ If you look at the video, I’m leaning over, ‘did I do it?’ The girl next to me was like, ‘Yeah! Yeah you did!’ I was like, ‘are we sure? Are we positive?’”

Mikaela says she was then greeted by a wave of relief, as she stood at the top of the podium not once, but twice.

She says it wasn’t until her last day in Tokyo that it all settled in.

“The national anthem was playing, and we were all in the stands.” says Mikaela, “It was the last day. I had finished my races, and I was like, ‘I’m done and I did what I needed to do.’ It really started to hit me in that moment.”

Less than a week later, Mikaela is back in the United States and already in Pennsylvania for her freshman year at Grove City College.

She landed Saturday night, moved into her dorm Sunday, and started her classes Tuesday - a busy first few days for your not-so-typical freshman.

That’s two weeks later than her peers, but it’s safe to say she was excused.

Mikaela is studying pre-med, as she takes her swimming career to the collegiate level for the Wolverines.

She says she appreciates all the love and support from back home during her time in Tokyo. She hopes to make another appearance at the Games, perhaps in Paris or Los Angeles.

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