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Jayci Simon eyeing para-badminton in the 2024 Paralympic Games

Posted at 5:07 PM, Apr 07, 2023

Jayci Simon has been playing sports her whole life. As she got older, she wasn't growing and doctors weren't sure why.

"Everything that she was testing for had a shortened life expectancy or a lot of medical complications. So when we got the dwarfism diagnosis, it was a huge relief, and it was like, well, she's just going to have short stature we can deal with that," Jayci's mom Amy said.

The diagnosis came when Jayci was 7 years old. Sports became a way for her to connect. In 2015, she was at a Little People of America (LPA) event and got introduced to badminton. Jayci went from playing in her backyard to in 2019 playing in her first international tournament.

"It's been really crazy. I never dreamed of being in this place, but it's been really fun," Jayci said.

Jayci has climbed the para-badminton rankings all the way to number six in the world.

"I never imagined the journey that we'd be on. I thought it was it would be more of a medical journey and a new community, and we've had all that. But, I never imagined traveling the world with her and following her around to all of these different countries and seeing her pour her heart into badminton," Simon said.

There are still challenges as Jayci doesn't have a coach in the United States, a consistent place to practice or has received any funding for her trips.

"It's been really difficult. But I mean, I've made due with what I have. If I come across any resources, I try and take advantage," Jayci said.

Since this journey started eight years ago, Jayci has had one date circled.

"Ever since I knew the Paralympics were a thing for badminton, I've had my eyes set on the 2024 Paralympics," Jayci said.
 
A few more tournaments before then, including a trip to Brazil and Thailand, can help her qualify for that dream.

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