Breanna Clark Honored By Her High School After Two Paralympic Golds
by Tom Carothers
Breanna Clark celebrates a gold medal win at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. (Photo: Joe Kusumoto)
Los Angeles native Breanna Clark has made quite a name for herself on the world stage.
A two-time Paralympian, Clark has gone two-for-two on winning gold medals in the 400-meter T20 and is the current world record holder in the event as well.
Now, the 28-year-old Clark has another honor to her name — high school hall of famer.
Her alma mater, Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, inducted Clark into the institution’s Hall of Fame in a ceremony on Oct. 1. She joined 20 other Dorsey grads in the ceremony, held during the school’s 85th anniversary celebration.
“It was awesome,” Clark said. “It was amazing to have people there to honor me.”
Clark, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4, was by far the youngest inductee in a Hall of Fame class featuring notables from the worlds of athletics, entertainment, and business.
She graduated in 2012, 24 years after the next most recent Dorsey grad who was inducted.
“Most people have to wait until they’ve moved on from their sport, they’re going on with life for years and then finally get the call,” Rosalyn Clark, Breanna’s mother, said. “Here, Breanna is still competing and got the call, that was very surprising to me that she got the call so early.”
The ceremony was also a chance for family and friends to get together and celebrate Breanna’s achievements, and for the Paralympian to be recognized by her community.
“I thought it was an honor, because this was the first time that her high school had really recognized her and all the things that she had accomplished prior to that time,” Rosalyn said. “People had said that there were plans to honor her, but those things never came through so it was nice to hear from someone and feel that something good was going to happen to her involving her high school.”
With the high school ceremony and honors now past, it’s time for Breanna and Rosalyn get back to work with eyes toward the upcoming Paralympic Games Paris 2024.
Rosalyn, who won a silver medal in the 4x400 at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, is her daughter’s coach.
Breanna describes Rosalyn as “tough” when it comes to training, but notes, “she’s still my mom and the best coach I’ve ever had.”
Rosalyn has trained her daughter throughout a career that has seen Breanna win the 400 gold medal in her Paralympic debut in 2016. Breanna went on to defend that gold in Tokyo by breaking her own world record with a time of 55.18 seconds.
It was the second time she’s broken her own record in the 400, and she has no intentions of leaving it there as the mother/daughter duo have recently started training with Paris 2024 approaching.
Rosalyn is adamant that her daughter still has room to improve on her time.
“Something we’ve had trouble with in the past is that in Breanna’s mind, sometimes, when she’s in front she gets to about five meters before the tape and slows down,” Rosalyn said. “She has a tendency to get out fast, which is good. But after she breaks everyone down and gets near the finish, she’s like ‘I got this’ and eases up before the tape.”
To combat that tendency, Rosalyn will have Breanna running added distance past the finish in order to ensure her not to ease up before the race is finished.
“It’s a learning procedure. Soon, eventually, she’ll do it and it will become a natural thing,” Rosalyn said. “After doing 10 meters past the tape every day in training, when suddenly she doesn’t have to go that extra 10 meters in a race, we won’t have a problem.”
Breanna isn’t exactly looking forward to even more distance being tacked on to train in one of the most grueling distances of track competition. However, she understands the goal is to make her even better as she looks to make it three straight Paralympic golds and hopefully break her own world record yet again.
“It’s about understanding rather than just punishment,” Breanna said.
The pair are currently working on foundation training, running hills and longer distances. Rosalyn said the training will begin ramping up heading into the new year when they begin hitting the track.
The Clarks are looking forward to returning to a full Paralympic experience in 2024, after the Tokyo games were delayed a year and competed without spectators in 2021.
“It was pouring rain in Japan and the stands were empty. I’m thinking France has got to be better,” Rosalyn said. “At least we know we should have some fans in the stands this time, unless something goes drastically wrong before then.”
Until that time, the Clarks will be working towards their goal and controlling what they are able to control. Through the work, the coaching arrangement is time well spent for both Rosalyn and Breanna, and an experience that both feel blessed to share.
“I know Breanna better than anyone else would,” Rosalyn said. “Our connection is second to none.”