Gig Harbor resident and Peninsula High School graduate Megan Blunk is a Paralympic gold medalist. Blunk and the USA wheelchair basketball team took home gold in Rio de Janerio, Brazil earlier this month, after beating Germany in the final, 62-45.
“It was pretty intense — there was a lot of emotion,” Blunk said of the championship game. “We had such good composure. There was nothing they could do. We were playing at the top of our game and they were getting more and more down on themselves. Watching them fall apart was pretty interesting.”
Blunk’s teammate, Rebecca Murray, led Team USA with 33 points.
“She was playing the best she’s ever played,” Blunk said. “She’s a very calm, solid player.”
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Blunk didn’t get see the floor during the championship game, which she said was disappointing for her.
“I wanted to be in that game,” she said. “I wanted to be at the top of my game and know that I came and performed. But there’s another view you can have — it’s about the journey, and everything I did to get there. When I went into games, I went in with confidence and composure. I handled that crazy, intense crowd and atmosphere and I was ready. Being able to get to that point — I wanted to learn how to overcome being scared and insecure, and I did.”
When I went into games, I went in with confidence and composure. I handled that crazy, intense crowd and atmosphere and I was ready.
Megan Blunk, Paralympic gold medalist
But she was happy for the team, celebrated the win and enjoyed the experience. And now she has a gold medal to show for it.
“It’s pretty cool,” she said. “It was crazy, at the Paralympic Park, the number of people who would come up and ask to take a picture with you, or sign an autograph.”
Blunk had to smile for so many pictures, that her mouth literally started hurting.
“My jaw still hurts from smiling that much,” she said.
The Gig Harbor community rallied around Blunk, hosting a sendoff for her before she left for Brazil.
I love our town. I can’t really believe the support; they’ve been behind me the whole time. It’s awesome.
“It’s been amazing,” Blunk said. “I love our town. I can’t really believe the support; they’ve been behind me the whole time. It’s awesome. Getting good luck cards, all these things; people constantly telling me how much I inspire them, helped them through whatever. That’s what pushes me. It keeps me inspired to keep doing whatever I’m doing. The goal to me isn’t about winning, it’s about the journey. The fact we got gold, that’s amazing.”
Blunk said she felt like the people of Rio got a bad rap from the media.
“They’re so amazingly genuine,” Blunk said. “They sincerely want to help you in anything you’re doing.”
One local, who was working the games, went the extra mile. Blunk was trying to get tickets to her mom for the opening ceremony, but wasn’t able to get to her. The lady offered to bring them to her mom for Blunk.
She waited for a bus for two hours to deliver the tickets to Blunk’s mom.
“It’s crazy amazing,” Blunk said. “She totally wanted to do that. I gave her a jersey and signed it. That meant so much to her. She said it was the best gift she has ever received.”
Blunk is undecided on whether she will try to play in the next Paralympics.
“A big part of me does, but it’s such a huge commitment,” Blunk said. “We’ll just have to see how it all plays out.”
Blunk and her team will visit the White House on Thursday (Sept. 29) and meet President Obama.
“I feel like Obama is a really genuine, laid-back guy,” Blunk said. “I like him.”
She reflected for a moment, and said what’s probably on the mind of millions of American’s following Monday night’s presidential debate.
“I’m glad I’m not meeting Trump or Clinton,” Blunk said with a laugh.
Blunk encouraged anyone interested to reach out to her on her Facebook athlete page, “Megan Blunk,” for any reason.
“If they know anyone that has a disability and wants to participate in wheelchair sports, they can reach out to me,” she said. “If anyone they know has been injured or is in the hospital and I can come visit them in the future, I would be there in heartbeat.”