'Pure joy': Salem's Annie Flood on USA Paralympic team

'Pure joy': Salem's Annie Flood on USA Paralympic team

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Annie Flood was prepared to move forward, having accepted this was not her year to make Team USA’s sitting volleyball Paralympic roster.

Last year Flood went all in. She moved from Salem to Team USA’s headquarters in Oklahoma to try and make the Tokyo team.

“I went and I trained and I gave it everything I have,” Flood told KOIN 6 News. “And then I came home and didn’t make the roster and it was frustrating and I was angry because I gave everything I have and was that just not enough or did I do something wrong?”

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She was named an alternate when the team was announced in July.

And then she got the call.

“I had not only just, sort of, be OK with the fact that I didn’t make the roster and start to just be like, ‘Oh, my team’s going I get to cheer for them stateside,’ but I’d also just moved into college,” she said. “And then I got the call and everything sort of clicked. It was like, OK, this is where I’m supposed to be.”

Flood said she started crying.

“I get off the phone — ‘Thank you so much!’ — and I just start sobbing, like sobbing and I screamed, and I was like, ‘I’m going to Tokyo!’ and my dad was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ and my mom was like ‘What’s going on?’ It was a scene but it was, like, just pure joy.”

Annie Flood of Salem is on Team USA’s Paralympic sitting volleyball team, August 2021 (KOIN)

Born with fibibular hemimela, the Salem native has lived nearly her entire life with a prosthetic on her right leg. But growing up the Paralympics were the last thing on her mind.

“I mean I always wanted to just be like every other kid, I didn’t want to be different, I didn’t want to be in the Paralympics, I didn’t even know what that was,” she said.

Her joy at being on the team in Tokyo is palpable. Team USA is pursuing back-to-back gold medals. And now she just wants everyone to tune in and watch when they begin their pursuit on Friday against Rwanda.

“It was just very surreal and I’m still not truly, like, processed all of it,” she told KOIN 6 News. “I feel like my dreams have come true, all of them, and it’s like so cheesy but I really do feel like my dream has come true.”

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