Resilience: USA’s battle cry on Tokyo 2020 rivalry with China

Photo: OIS/Thomas Lovelock

“Taking on China this time was all about being resilient,” said United States captain Kathryn Holloway moments after their four-set win over China in the gold medal match of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on Sunday.

Team USA played China in the final of the last three editions of the Paralympics and each encounter has been different.

“Every Games has been really different. In Beijing and London we knew (China) were a better team, but we wanted to come after them,” Holloway said.

“In Beijing we were grateful we got to the gold medal match and then got stomped on. In London we got a bit better, but in Rio we had focused solely on them.”

Five years after that gold medal win in Rio de Janeiro, they faced their Asian rivals in the preliminary round and lost in straight sets.

“This Games, we have literally not seen China for five years, we had no idea they were gonna show up like that.

“This Games was about focusing on every single minor detail. We were also very anxious every day. Every single one of us had nerves, for every single match.”

At the gold medal match, they had the resilience Holloway mentioned that got them through each play and they made a real charge to get that second gold medal for their country.

But the road to their journey to Tokyo has also been tough.

“This journey has been so challenging Every day is a visceral anxiety, stress, trying to figure each other out,” Holloway said.

“This is a brand new team. I know we’re deep, I know we’re talented. We’ve been together for the last five years. But we showed up totally changed. I still can’t believe what we did. I’m in shock.”

Holloway could feel the exhaustion at the end of the long tournament and all she could think about is to get that well-deserved break. After all, earning two silver medals and two gold medals in four Paralympic Games editions is such a big feat for any athlete.

“I think I’ll take a break, and I’m not sure what the future holds for me.

“I love this team, I love this sport, and I love advocating for Paralympics. I’m also really tired.”