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Meet the Hoosiers representing Team USA at the Paralympic Games

So far, six Hoosiers have punched their tickets to Tokyo and more could follow in their footsteps.
Credit: AP
Competitors start a women's 100-meter backstroke preliminary heat during the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials for swimming Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Minneapolis. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)

INDIANAPOLIS — Athletes from the far northern Indiana town of Fremont to the southern city of Evansville and everywhere in between will be representing the United States at this year's Paralympic Games.

So far, there are nine Hoosier athletes going to Tokyo, and more Indiana natives could join them. Team USA is expected to have more than 290 athletes. They began qualifying for U.S. Paralympic Team Aug. 24, 2019.

Meet the Hoosiers on Team USA and check back for updates on more Indiana residents that qualify.

RELATED: Meet the Hoosiers going for gold at this year's Olympics

Para Archery

Andre Shelby - Jeffersonville

Andre Shelby, 54, is a U.S. Navy veteran and a Paralympic gold medalist. He entered the Para Archery scene relatively late in life, first competing internationally in 2013. But he quickly climbed up the ranks, earning a spot in the 2016 Rio Games, where he won it all as a No. 12 seed.

Credit: AP
Andre Shelby of the United States competes in the individual compound-open during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Sambadrome, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Shelby qualified for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo with a second-place finish during the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials in Chula Vista, California.

Shelby competes in the compound men's open class for archery.

Para Cycling

Tom Davis - Fremont

Tom Davis is one of eight men and six women who will represent Team USA in para cycling at the Tokyo Games later this summer. 

Credit: AP
Tom Davis, from Fremont, Indiana, crosses the finish line to win the wheelchair division of the 39th Marine Corps Marathon, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014, in Arlington, Va. The race includes runners from 59 nations and each branch of the U.S. armed forces. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The 44-year-old dominated at the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials in Minneapolis. He had the top time of any athlete relative to their respective Tokyo qualification standard. But this isn't Davis' first rodeo. He finished fourth in the road race and sixth in the time trial in Rio.

Davis is a U.S. Army veteran who was wounded in combat in 2006 when he was riding a Humvee that hit an IED, sending the vehicle two stories into the air before landing on its roof. He ended up losing his leg and later picked up hand cycling. 

He lives with his wife and four children in the small northern Indiana town of Fremont. In his spare time, he coaches youth sports.


Zach Buhler - Huntington

Zach Buhler is one of the only two first-time Paralympians on Team USA's goalball team.  

He was born in Indianapolis and currently resides in Huntington. The 24-year-old was introduced to goalball in 2015 at a camp in Fort Wayne. 

Buhler has been an athlete for his entire life. In his lifetime he has played a long list of sports starting with baseball at age 2. He was non-stop in sports until he lost his vision. Despite this, he continued playing basketball throughout high school. 

He had only just been introduced to goalball in the months prior to the 2016 Rio Games. But he's earned his share of hardware — he plays Beep Baseball for the Indy Thunder and has won the last four National Beep Baseball Association World Series.  

Para Swimming

Evan Austin - Terre Haute

This will be Evan Austin's third Paralympics.

Austin, 28, is the reigning world champion in the 50-meter butterfly. Plus, he currently has the fastest time in the world so far this season in the 400-meter freestyle.  

Austin set two new American records in the 400-meter freestyle and 50-meter butterfly at a competition earlier this spring.  

In his spare time, he helps other swimmers reach their goals while serving as an assistant coach at Purdue University. 

Mikaela Jenkins - Evansville

Mikaela Jenkins is one of 11 women who will be making their Paralympic debuts in Tokyo. 

Jenkins was fitted with her first prosthesis when she was just a year old and learned to walk independently a few months later. She started swimming at the age of 4 and got competitive at age 8. 

Lizzi Smith - Muncie

Lizzi Smith graduated from Muncie Central High School in 2014. Two years later, she won a silver and a bronze medal at the Rio Games as part of the 34 points 4x100-meter freestyle and medley relay teams. She placed fourth in the 100-meter butterfly and fifth in the 100-meter backstroke.

Para Track and Field

Noah Malone - Fishers/Indiana State

Credit: AP
Noah Malone, center, leads Tanner Wright, left, and Kevan Hueftle, right, during the paralympic men's 100-meter dash the Drake Relays athletics meet, Friday, April 23, 2021, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Noah Malone, who attended the Indiana School for the Blind and Hamilton Southeastern High School, qualified for the Paralympics on the track Thursday. He qualified in the 100 meters and 400 meters and is the world leader in the 200 meters. 

Malone's time in the 100 meters at the Paralympic trials was .08 seconds behind his world-leading time of 10.66 seconds. His time in the 400 meters of 49.38 seconds is just .05 seconds behind the fastest in the world, according to Indiana State.

Malone, who has been legally blind since eighth grade, is a former IHSAA state champion in the 200 meters.

Sam Grewe - Middlebury 

Rio silver medalist Sam Grewe, a University of Notre Dame graduate and current University of Michigan medical student, is going to his second Paralympics. 

The Paralympic high jumper is an avid athlete who played lacrosse, basketball and football in Middlebury, Indiana. He lost his leg after being diagnosed in 2011 with a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer.

Before his amputation in 2012, the Notre Dame football team took Grewe under its wing. The team not only supported Grewe but also brought him on the field during their undefeated regular season run. Nearly a year later Grewe was cancer-free and he said it was this experience that inspired him to jump back into athletics. 

Credit: AP
Sam Grewe, of Middlebury, Ind., walks out with the Notre Dame senior captains before the start of the Wake Forest Notre Dame NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. Grewe Sam Grewe had his right leg amputated above the knee at age 13. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Grewe is a three-time world champion high jumper and he's favored to get gold at the Paralympics in Tokyo. 

He's was training for the Paralympic trials with the Fighting Irish's track and field team and even competed in a few meets. 

"I've competed able-bodied for the past year or two but I haven’t had any interactions with adaptive sports, and those are the meets that I jump the best at," Grewe said. "There's just a certain amount of adrenaline and intensity at Paralympic events that I just can't really find myself matching with collegiate meets, so I'm really excited to be back in that setting and to be with the guys I've been jumping with for years now."

When he finishes his studies, Grewe intends to go into biomedical engineering with the hopes of developing prosthetics. 

Wheelchair Rugby

Jeff Butler - Fort Wayne

Rio silver medalist Jeff Butler is gearing up for his second Paralympic Games.

Butler, 31, started playing wheelchair rugby when he was 13 years old. He made the national team after graduating from the University of Texas - Austin in 2014.

After Tokyo, he plans to pursue his MBA at Stanford.


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