Building On World Championships Success, Derek Loccident Has Loftier Goals For The Paralympics
by Stuart Lieberman
Only .06 meters separated three Team USA athletes in the men’s long jump T64 standings at the World Para Athletics Championships in July.
The leader of those three U.S. jumpers, silver medalist Derek Loccident, hadn’t even been long jumping a year prior to worlds.
The 25-year-old has since returned stateside with even bigger intentions. Loccident said he wants to compete in five events at the Paralympic Games Paris 2024: the 100-meter, 200-meter, long jump, discus and javelin.
“It’s a big task, but I feel like it will bring a lot of joy to me as my love for track and field continues to grow,” said Loccident, who is actively training for all five events.
He is no stranger to big tasks.
Loccident grew up playing football and running track in Oklahoma City. He competed in both sports at Westmoore High School before playing defensive back at the University of Central Oklahoma. After playing in two games during his redshirt sophomore season, Loccident’s left foot was severed in a train accident on September 9, 2018.
That didn’t discourage him, though. Instead, Loccident worked his way back to the gridiron to play as a below-the-knee amputee three years later.
Shortly after his collegiate football career ended in 2021, Loccident received a phone call from U.S. Para track and field coach Joaquim Cruz, recruiting him to try track and field as a Para athlete.
“It came right in time because I was pondering whether to join the workforce or what to do,” Loccident said. “He directed me to what I needed to get done and meets to go to in order to compete for Team USA.”
By the end of 2022, Loccident graduated and moved to California so he could train full time at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center as part of the sport’s development program.
No longer avoiding shorts and choosing to show off his prosthetic left foot, Loccident is now inspiring others through speaking engagements and public appearances. His story was also the subject of “STEPS,” a short film produced by the Oklahoma City Thunder that premiered at deadCenter Film Festival this past June in Oklahoma City.
Loccident made a big statement at the national championships in May, when he finished second to Trenten Merrill, the reigning Paralympic bronze medalist, in the long jump T64. A few months later, the world championships marked Loccident’s first international meet and his first trip to Europe.
Loccident was so laser focused on the competition that he didn’t allow time for any potential distractions.
“I didn’t do much at the world championships other than compete since it was my first time, and I didn’t really know what to expect,” Loccident said. “I didn’t even go see the Eiffel Tower.”
Three days before competing in the long jump, Loccident ran in a preliminary heat of the men’s 100 T64. His time of 11.55 was .17 seconds away from qualifying for the final in that event.
His best jump of 7.39 meters would have been good enough to share the silver medal at the last Paralympics with Dimitri Pavade of France. In Paris, the silver was Loccident’s alone, as he jumped .05 meters farther than U.S. teammate Jarryd Wallace, who claimed bronze. Merrill finished .01 meters behind Wallace and just missed the podium.
Given Loccident’s performance at the world championships came only two weeks after he received a new competition blade, he said he knows he is capable of so much more, both in the long jump and other disciplines.
As he’s proven before, no task is too big for him.
That will be his motto for Paris 2024.
And he hopes to see the Eiffel Tower next time around, too.
Stuart Lieberman covered Paralympic sports for three years at the International Paralympic Committee, including at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games. He is a freelance contributor to usparatf.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.