Long Island Paralympians: Jaclyn Smith

Jaclyn Smith is a Williston Park native on the U.S. rowing team. She picked up the sport during her high school days at Our Lady of Mercy.

Jaclyn Smith is a Williston Park native on the U.S. rowing team. She picked up the sport during her high school days at Our Lady of Mercy. (9/4/16)

WILLISTON PARK - Thousands of the world's best athletes are converging in Rio this week to try to bring home a gold medal in the Paralympics, and Long Island is well-represented.

Jaclyn Smith is a Williston Park native on the U.S. rowing team. She picked up the sport during her high school days at Our Lady of Mercy.

She played many sports growing up, but because of her visual impairment, she thought rowing was her best option.

"Because of the depth perception I have with my vision, I couldn't be great at those sports.  So when I went to high school and they offered rowing, I said, 'This doesn't have a ball so I will give it a shot,'" Smith says. "So I started with rowing in high school because I knew that I was good and could probably make the high school team for those traditional sports, but I knew that I could not continue on to college with them."

Smith always wanted to be a police officer growing up, but couldn't because of her eyesight. She says representing this country in the Olympics was the next best option.

Besides winning a medal, Jaclyn has one main goal: to make her family proud.

"I want them to know that their support and their efforts to help me along the way are going to something, and I'm not just slacking off," she says.

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