NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Bridgestone Americas Inc., a worldwide partner of the Olympic and Paralympic games, is supporting seven Team USA Olympians and Paralympians on the road to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
Bridgestone is a partner of the U.S. Olympic Committee and U.S. Paralympics through 2024. Tokyo 2020 marks the third Olympic and Paralympic Games that the company has worked with a roster of Team USA athletes.
"Bridgestone is committed to improving the way people move, live, work, and play, and these efforts are reflected in our support of the Olympic and Paralympic movements and their world-class athletes," Bridgestone Americas CEO and President Gordon Knapp said.
"While our new Team Bridgestone ambassadors certainly have an impressive list of athletic accomplishments, we are most excited to celebrate the personal journeys behind their achievements. These remarkable individuals have unique experiences to share that can help motivate people of all backgrounds and abilities to overcome obstacles and chase their dreams."
Team Bridgestone athlete ambassadors are selected based on criteria related to the company's core values, their personal stories, performance attributes and community involvement, the company said.
Each athlete will receive financial support and access to Bridgestone products and technologies. They also will participate in community, customer and employee activities before, during and after the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The ambassadors are: Scout Bassett (Para track and field), Jordan Burroughs (wrestling), Allyson Felix (track and field), Missy Franklin (swimming), Will Groulx (Para cycling), Jessica Long (Para swimming) and Ryan Murphy (swimming).
The seven athletes join a global Team Bridgestone roster that includes more than 50 ambassadors across 14 different countries.
The background stories of the ambassadors are:
- Ms. Bassett lost her right leg in a chemical fire as an infant, then was abandoned and subsequently spent seven years in a government-run orphanage in Nanjing, China. In 1995, she was adopted by an American couple from Michigan and tried a variety of sports to connect with her peers while still learning the English language.
At 14, the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) awarded Ms. Bassett a grant to fund her training as a runner. She competed collegiately for University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she graduated in 2011 with degrees in Sociology and Anthropology.
She is a three-time U.S. national champion in the 100-meter event and a world championship bronze medalist in both the 100-meters and the long jump. She competed at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016, placing fifth in the 100-meter event and 10th in the long jump. The 30-year-old is passionate about helping impaired athletes chase their dreams and serves as a motivational speaker and spokesperson for CAF.
- Mr. Burroughs began wrestling at age 5 and won his first national championship as a high-school senior. He then became a two-time undefeated Division I national champion and a three-time All-American in college for the University of Nebraska.
He won his first world championship at 74 kilograms in 2011, becoming the fourth wrestler ever to win a NCAA championship and world championship in the same year. He won gold at 74 kilos at the Olympic Games London 2012 and has since added three more world championships.
Despite failing to medal in a disappointing performance at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, Mr. Burroughs' candor after elimination was a source of inspiration for his fellow athletes and Olympic fans. Since winning his third Pan Am Championship title, the 30-year-old is motivated to make his third-straight Olympic appearance in Tokyo.
- Ms. Felix didn't begin competing in track and field until high school and today is the most decorated athlete in track and field history as well as a four-time Olympian (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016) for Team USA.
Over the course of her career, she has won nine Olympic medals (six gold, three silver), 16 world championship titles and still holds a world record as a member of the U.S. 4x100-meter relay team at the Olympic Games London 2012.
The 33-year-old serves as a board member for Right to Play, which raises awareness for underserved children in developing regions.
- Ms. Franklin is a six-time Olympic medalist who competed in her first international event at 14. She won five medals (four gold, one bronze) and broke the world record in the 200-meter backstroke at the Olympic Games London 2012 .
In her two years of college competition at UC Berkeley before turning pro, she won four individual NCAA titles and helped her school win the 2015 NCAA Women's Division I Swimming and Diving Team Championship. She also was named the 2015 Collegiate Woman of the Year and won the Honda Cup as the top female athlete across all collegiate sports.
She earned her fifth career gold medal as part of the 4x200m free relay team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
She retired from competitive swimming in December 2018 due to chronic shoulder issues. Today, the 24-year-old is working to complete her bachelor's degree at the University of Georgia while continuing to champion her sport through speaking engagements and her work with various foundations.
- Mr. Groulx served in the U.S. Navy before sustaining a spinal cord injury in a motorcycle accident. It was while recovering in a VA spinal cord injury unit that he read about the Paralympic Games and vowed to one day compete himself.
He is a four-time Paralympian and six-time Paralympic medalist. He won two bronze medals and one gold while competing for Team USA in wheelchair rugby at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games before transitioning to Para-cycling in 2013.
He qualified for the Paralympic Games Rio 2016 where he earned three medals (one gold, two silver).
- Ms. Long is the second-most decorated Paralympian in U.S. history with 23 Paralympic medals. Originally from Siberia, she was adopted from a Russian orphanage at 13 months. Born with fibular hemimelia, she was missing the fibulas, ankles, heels and most of the other bones in her feet. At 18 months, her legs were amputated below the knees so she could be fitted for prosthetic legs and learn to walk.
She joined her first competitive swim team at age 10 and competed two years later in the Paralympic Games Athens 2004 as the youngest athlete on Team USA. Now 27 years old, she has collected 13 Paralympic gold medals, 31 world titles and multiple world records.
Ms. Long advocates for the Paralympic Games and Para-athletes and shows young girls they are valuable and strong.
- Mr. Murphy set numerous American and NCAA records while at the University of California, Berkeley, where he won both the 100- and 200-meter backstroke events at the NCAA Championships for four straight years, and is the World Record holder in the 100-meter backstroke.
He won three golds in his Olympic debut at Rio 2016, sweeping the backstroke events and helping the U.S. win gold in the 4x100-meter medley relay. The 23-year-old swept the backstroke events at the 2018 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, won six medals (three gold and three silver) at the 2018 Swimming World Championships in Hangzhou, China, and was named the 2018 Male Athlete of the Year by USA Swimming.