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'I'm just filled with joy': Susannah Scaroni back at Bloomsday after Paralympic gold

For Scaroni, today marked her first time back in Spokane racing after an injury, but also since winning a gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic games.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Tekoa native Susannah Scaroni was back in Spokane for her 15th Bloomsday.

"To be back here in Spokane, I'm just filled with joy. It feels like, you know, this is where I belong whenever I'm here," said Scaroni. 

Despite feeling out a new chair, Scaroni won her fifth Bloomsday title in the Elite Women's Wheelchair Division with a time of 31:18, falling 1:20 shy of the course record she set in 2019.

"I feel great about the race! I know this course so well, so I just got to kind of like, go muscle memory out there today and it was amazing. So, it felt good," said Scaroni. 

Scaroni performed like many have come to expect, but what some might not know is the journey it took to get here.

"On September 16th I was involved in a training collision. So, I was hit from behind by a car that was going probably 45 or 50 miles per hour and I had a burst fracture of my vertebrae in my back. So, I spent four months in a back brace, was not training at all," said Scaroni. 

An experience that came with mixed emotions as she was at the top of her game when the accident happened.

"Above everything, so thankful to be alive. That was a miracle," said Scaroni. "And then, yeah there was some massive disappointment, I was just at the top of my career two weeks before that in Tokyo and was looking forward to racing in the fall, but everything got overshadowed by gratefulness to just be alive."

After months of recovery, Susannah was cleared to get back in her racing chair on January 3rd.

"It was very slow going at first. I had no idea I'd be racing in the spring. It's amazing how much your muscles do remember things. The recovery, we did it right, so I think I was well positioned to make a comeback," said Scaroni.

For Scaroni, today marked her first time back in Spokane racing after the injury, but also since winning a gold medal in the 5,000 meter at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic games. Something she believes she wouldn't have been able to do without her hometown support. 

"I'm only here, I was only in Tokyo, because of the support that raised me and cheered for me from day one back when I was in third grade trying to play basketball with my classmates and that support has just fed into my success," said Scaroni. "Really I feel like coming back with a gold medal is like giving it back to my community and saying 'Thank you guys for always believing in me!"

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