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Sacred Heart University alum to compete in para-taekwondo for Team USA in 2020 Tokyo Paralympics

Brianna Salinaro is the first female athlete to compete in para-taekwondo.

News 12 Staff

Aug 23, 2021, 7:38 PM

Updated 1,010 days ago

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A Sacred Heart University alum will represent the United States in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Brianna Salinaro is the first female athlete to compete in para-taekwondo.
Salinaro was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was 1-and-a-half years old.
"It's basically shaped my life, like I'm growing up as a kid, I'm always wondering why I had it. Why me?" Salinaro says.
She had two surgeries when she was young to correct how she walked, and hours of occupational and speech therapy as well.
"It affected me a lot, like emotionally, obviously physically, but I don't think I would change it right now," she says.
She found comfort in Taekwondo and realized that she happened to be good at it.
"As I grew through the sport and just, in life in general, the answer kind of came clear. Like in a way, I was meant to do what I'm doing right now," Salinaro says.
Taekwondo will be the first full contact para-sport in the summer games.
"I feel more seen, and I think that it opens the world's eyes to a lot more when it comes to disabilities," Salinaro says. Now she wants other people with disabilities to know that they are still able to compete.
"If you're interested in something but hesitant because your disability, go for it anyway. You'll never know what doors could open," she says.
Salinaro says she could not have done it without the support and understanding of her professors at Sacred Heart University, especially Professor Christina Gunther, chair of the health sciences department.
"I know sometimes students don't want to disclose a disability, but I think because Brianna was so open about it, it helped her, and what a role model for others," Gunther says.
Gunther says Salinaro never let a disability stop her from succeeding.
"I hope she knows how supported she is, especially as an alumna from Sacred Heart. It's just tremendous," Gunther says.
"It's great to know that people back home are watching, so I'm really appreciative of that, and I hope to make everyone proud," Salinaro says.
Salinaro's fight will be on Sept. 3 and professors at SHU say her alma mater will tune in to watch her fight.


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