Tokyo dreams become reality for South Salem athlete

Annie Flood at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic Games (Instagram photo)

After training for most of her senior year of high school, Annie Flood learned in July she’d been named an alternate for the U.S. women’s sitting volleyball team, and wouldn’t be going to Tokyo to compete in the Paralympic games.

The 2021 South Salem graduate was disappointed. But then, just days before the team was set to leave in late August, she got a call that a teammate had to drop out.

“It was so crazy,” Flood said in an email from Tokyo. “I got the call right after I had woken up and I freaked out. I ran downstairs and told my dad and my mom and they were so happy for me. It was seriously the best feeling ever knowing that I was going to be able to go to Tokyo!”

Flood joined the national team in 2019 and, at 18, is the youngest player.

She was born without a fibula, or lower leg bone, in her right leg, and three toes on her foot. Before her first birthday, she had her leg amputated and has used a prosthetic since childhood.

Flood began playing volleyball on her prosthetic leg at school, then discovered the sitting volleyball game at a summer camp for amputees. She began playing, eventually earning a spot on the national team.

With school moved online last year because of Covid, Flood moved to Oklahoma to train with her teammates, completing her schoolwork between practices.

In Tokyo, Flood said she hasn’t had much playing time, which she expected as a newer member of the team. Her email dispatch from the games was peppered with exclamation points about how excited she is to cheer on her teammates.

The women’s team heads into its gold medal match Saturday against China with a 2-1 record.

The team previously lost to China on Monday after defeating Rwanda. Following the China game, they defeated the Russian Paralympic Committee Wednesday.

“Losing to China was really tough. China played really well but we will be better next time. It was a hard loss but a great learning opportunity for us to come out stronger in the Gold Medal Match!” Flood said.

When she’s not training, Flood said she’s enjoyed trying food and meeting other athletes in person. The gold medal match will be livestreamed online and starts at 6 p.m. Pacific time on Saturday, Sept. 4.

“The gold medal match is so close and I can’t even describe how excited I am!” Flood said.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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