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Hillside Senior 2016 Paralympian

UPDATE: Desmond Jackson had an amazing trip to Rio.  He placed seventh in the worldin the long jump and was the fasted American in the 100-meter. Jackson was also was named a 2016 U.S. Paralympics Track & Field High School All-American. He will continue to compete and has his sights set on Tokyo 2020.

Durham students will be heading to school on Monday – minus one. Hillside High senior Desmond Jackson will be representing Team USA at the 2016 Desmond Jackson Paralympics as the youngest male on the track and field team.  He will compete in three events: the men’s 100-meter, 200-meter and long jump.

Jackson’s left leg was amputated just above the knee due to a birth defect when he was nine months old. It has never slowed him down and he was always active playing soccer and football until he changed to track in high school.

In addition to running against other athletes on Hillside’s track and field team, Jackson trains five to six days a week with his personal coach Jamaal Daniels. He has been a member of the US Paralympic Team for the past two years.

“He’s been more than a coach to me,” said Jackson. “He’s a brother and a mentor and helps me beyond the physical training of track.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”

After placing third in the long jump and first in the 100 at the US Paralympic Team trials, Jackson feels confident about his chances in Rio. 

“I feel like I have a really good chance to medal as long as I continue to run how I’ve been running lately,” said Jackson.

Jackson leaves Sunday for Rio with his mom and Daniels and will participate in the opening ceremonies on Sept. 7.  Check the Durham Public Schools Facebook page and Twitter account for updates on his progress.