Due to COVID-19, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games were postponed to Fall 2021. Taylor Talbot, a BYU-Idaho student and blind athlete, competed in this year’s games as a US Paralympian for track and field. In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio reporter Nina Shakin, Talbot explained how she felt when she first arrived at the track stadium in Tokyo.
“I wasn’t nervous until I like stepped out into the stadium and the track is almost like built into the ground,” she said. “It’s almost like it’s underground. You look up and there’s just all these seats so many of them and you just feel so small, but yet you’re on this huge stage and it’s your moment. It’s your time to shine. It was a dream come true.”
Talbot has a seasoned love for track and field and has been training for the Paralympics for years. Her efforts ultimately led her to take part in a moment she will never forget.
“That moment when you’re finally there like living your dream that you’ve worked years and years and years, your whole life for, something like that big too is just overwhelming and you feel all these emotions. And so, when I stepped out onto that track to compete, I felt nothing but joy,” she said.
When COVID-19 altered the season for the Paralympics, Talbot prayed to know whether she should continue training or prepare to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Though she did not receive a direct answer, she felt guided by her faith in her athletic journey.
“I’ve seen so many miracles this past season,” she said. “In fact, I’ve been calling it the miracle season because I’ve had to rely and lean on my faith this whole time. COVID hit and it messed up my plans. I was going to try for Tokyo then go on a mission and that just didn’t happen… Throughout the season there were times I wanted to quite and I just would feel the Spirit and it would say ‘No, you can do this!’ And so, it was just relying on faith the whole time, and I actually did teach many, many, many people about the gospel.”
Although she has since come to see the blessings from her challenges, Talbot remembers feeling very discouraged when she was removed from the Paralympic team due to an error in calculation after initially being accepted. Luckily, about 10 days later, the International Paralympic Committee allocated one more slot to the US team and Talbot was the first athlete alternate. Expereinces like this have shaped her testimony about God’s plan for her.
“All I can say is put your trust in God because He knows what He’s doing. Sometimes, you might not like it and sometimes it’s going to be really hard and you’re like ‘What the heck is going on?’ but everything happens for a reason,” she said.
Talbot believes that faith is a huge tool in overcoming trials and is expressly grateful for her supporters and those who encourage her to move forward and pursue her dreams.