Nick Rogers, middle, competes against Ronald Hertog (Netherlands), left and David Behre (Germany) during the 100-meter race at the 15th Summer Paralympic Games 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. AP file photo

More than anything, Nick Rogers felt gratitude when he learned he’s secured a spot on Team USA for the upcoming Paralympics in Tokyo. All the months spent training despite not knowing if the Games would go on or not paid off.

“I’ve been grinding, training in San Diego,” Rogers, a Bingham native, said in a phone interview while he spent some post-trials downtime visiting family in Concord, a small town in Somerset County. “Trust the process. It’s bigger than us. I’ve (sprinted) thousands of times. I’m so excited… I was just super grateful to be there. Missing a whole Games was a real possibility.”

The 24-year old Rogers placed second in the 400 meters at the Paralympic trials in Minneapolis, running 54.06 seconds. Rogers will compete in the 400 in Tokyo, and could also run in the 100. The Paralympics begin Aug. 24. Rogers said he’ll travel with the team and arrive in Tokyo on Aug. 10 to get acclimated.

Rogers also competed in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he placed fifth in the 400 and eighth in the 100. Rogers earned the bronze medal in the 400 at the 2019 world championships in Dubai, running 52.13 seconds. Born without fully formed fibulas on both legs, Rogers competes in the T62 division for athletes with double amputations below the knee.

Originally scheduled for last summer, the Paralympics were postponed a year as the world dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. Rogers used the extra time to train at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center near San Diego with coach Joaquim Cruz, who won the gold medal in the 800 at the 1984 Olympics for his native Brazil.

He’s also continued to adjust to new rules regarding the blades on which he and other double amputee athletes run. In 2018, the International Paralympic Committee placed height restrictions on racing blades, the prostheses on which athletes run. When he first began his racing career, Rogers used blades that made him stand 6-foot-3. Due to the restrictions, the blades Rogers uses make him stand 5-10.

Nick Rogers gets ready to race. Contributed photo

Rogers fought hamstring issues while his body adjusted to the new blades. Some of his best times recently have been on legs he used in 2019.

“You try to adapt and do your best,” Rogers said. “All of us are in the same boat.”

Adapting is what Rogers has done his entire life, from learning to walk on prostheses as a child to moving to Lisbon at 14 to live with his grandmother, Linda Rogers, and focus on training and academics. Rogers graduated from Lisbon High School in 2015.

Rogers will return to the Elite Athlete Training Center this week. He’ll be fitted for new legs and begin running on them as he makes his final preparations for Tokyo. Of course, the goal is to come home with a medal, but Rogers also would like to set personal records. He’ll celebrate his 25th birthday at the Games on Aug. 23.

“I just want to run,” Rogers said.

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