TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – A Paralympic hero has returned home after winning a gold and bronze medal in the 2021 Tokyo Games.
Evan Austin was recognized on Tuesday evening at the Vigo County School Corporation Aquatic Center by multiple community leaders.
“It’s been a wild ride. Not the way I planned it going down at all but happy that it’s concluded and I have some hardware here,” Austin said.
Austin was presented with a plaque from Dr. Rob Haworth, Superintendent of the Vigo County Schools, which listed the medals he won during the Paralympics.
Mayor Duke Bennett was also present and officially proclaimed November 2nd as “Evan Austin Day.”
“Most recently, Evan was named co-team captain for the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics where he qualified for three events, winning a gold medal in the 50-meter butterfly and setting an American record, and a bronze medal for the 400-meter freestyle. As the city of Terre Haute, we are proud to be the home of a Paralympic champion,” Haworth said.
Austin also presented a medal to a former coach, Michael Williams, to express his appreciation of his help and support throughout the years.
“Most people don’t know this about Team USA, but every medalist actually wins two medals. You win your medal for the games, and then Team USA actually provides another medal, a medal called ‘The Order of the Ikkos.’ A medal to be given to the athlete so that they can give it to someone who helped them,” Austin said.
Williams is the current coach of the Terre Haute Torpedoes Swim Club and both the Terre Haute North boy’s and girl’s high school swimming and diving teams. He expressed his gratitude for the medal given to him by Austin.
“What a great honor for the school corporation and what a great honor for the city of Terre Haute to have Evan as a part of our community,” Williams said.
Austin also had some advice to give for the youth swimmers involved in the Terre Haute Torpedoes Swim Club.
“Just love it, and all of it. There are parts of my swim career that I hate, but I love it. It’s one of those things that the bad is still all a part of the good,” Austin said.
Austin explained he hopes he is able to continue to inspire and challenge the kids within the community.
“I think that someone just needs to hear that someone believes in them. And I do, I believe in everyone in this program that they can just start working hard and really be a success story to come out of the Wabash Valley,” Austin said.
Austin has competed in three Paralympics – London, Rio, and Tokyo. He is now the assistant head coach for the women’s swimming team for Purdue University.