Low eyes Para gold for adopted country
As a track and field athlete, Vanessa Low didn't expect concussion to be the injury that almost derailed her third Paralympics campaign.
Low, who won gold at the Rio Paralympics in the T42 long jump and 100m sprint, fell during a bathroom visit and suffered a serious head knock.
The para long jump world champion, who lost both legs as a teenager when she fell from a train platform, was confined to bed rest for two weeks and three months on is still dealing with weekly headaches.
"A concussion is something that I've never had before, not playing in a contact sport, and I underestimated the impact that it would have on me," Low told AAP.
"I do all these things in training like a jump in the pit coming from top speed and nothing ever happens and then go to the bathroom at night and slip.
"It was a bit of a shock to be honest and it took a couple of weeks to get back into training. I think all up it probably impacted me for maybe six weeks.
"I'm still having some of the impacts staying around now, but I now know how to deal with it and I have strategies in place for some of the symptoms and triggers.
"I was really lucky with the medical team that I have around me, to make sure that I missed the least amount of training possible."
Setting a personal best of 5.32 metres this year, in what would have been a world record if ratified, Low will go into the T61 long jump as the gold medal favourite.
A change in disability categories means Low can't defend her Paralympic 100m sprint title.
In another change in the five years since Rio, 31-year-old Low has switched allegiance from her birth country of Germany to Australia after marrying Paralympic sprinter Scott Reardon.
He is already with the Australian team in Tokyo ahead of the Paralympics start on Tuesday while Low will depart on Saturday.
She has been embraced by her adopted country on and off the track as one the faces of activewear brand Jaggad.
Low said her family were supportive of her move.
"It was a difficult decision because I'm really grateful for everything that the German team has done for me and I wouldn't be the athlete that I am today without them," she said.
"I really cherish where I'm from but being part of Australia and Scott's family is a great privilege as well and being able to do this last bit of my journey, side by side with my husband, is really special."
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