Long Island’s own Mikey Brannigan, who won the Paralympic gold medal in the 1500 meters in Rio, is up for the Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year award at this year’s Team USA Awards – a ceremony that commemorates the outstanding accomplishments of Team USA athletes year-round.
In 2017, at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational where he raced against able-bodied runners, Brannigan won the men’s 1,500-meter and also bested his own world record in the 5,000 with a time of 14:09.51 at the Mt. SAC Relays. His spectacular season included three world championships medals – two of which were gold – in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000, earning him the top spot in the men’s T20 classification at all three distances.
We caught up with the 20-year-old East Northport native, who was diagnosed with autism at 18 months, as he busily prepares to defend his Paralympics title.
How did you initially get into running?
MB: I got into running when I was 9-year-old.
When did you realize it was something you wanted to do competitively?
MB: Right away.
What was it like to compete on Team USA in Rio where you won gold?
MB: It was an honor, a privilege. It was very special to represent our country, USA. I was happy.
What’s your training schedule like?
MB: Just mileage and workouts, the weight room. I’ve been swimming a lot and biking. Core exercises and stretching.
What do you like about training?
MB: Showing the results and what you put in and out.
What does it mean to you to be nominated for Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year?
MB: It was a privilege. It was an honor that they nominated me. It really humbles me.
What about your plans for the future? Do you think you will compete in another Paralympics?
MB: Yes, in the Paralympic games in Tokyo in 2020 to defend my title.
You can help Mikey earn Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year by voting at teamusa.org. Voting ends at midnight on Monday, October 30.