Jessica Long, winner of twelve paralympic swimming championships has been featured on a number of recent documentaries during the Winter Olympics at Sochi 2014 that videotaped her and her sister when they traveled back to Russia to trace her birthplace and family. Long was named Tatiana Olegovna Kirillova when born and spent her first year at Irkutsk in an orphanage, an 18-hour train trip from her birth-place of Bratsk, before her adopted parents brought her to Baltimore, Maryland.
One is NBC's 20-minute Long Way Home: The Jessica Long Story, that shows her and her sister on their trip to Russia and to meet her birth parents, brothers, and sisters since adopted when 13 months old by her American parents. The build up of this moment of truth for Jessica and her birth family in their tiny home in Russia 7,000 miles away, was filled with anticipation and uncertainty. Jessica wondered as a child what her mother looked like, and didn’t want her or any of her Russian family to feel she had any anger for being placed in an adoption home. The mother gave birth to her when only sixteen, and the couple simply could not afford the expensive operations necessary to give Jessica a chance in life. Jessica made sure to inform them she was so happy the adoption was a wonderful success and wanted to share it with everyone.
When the moment arrived that her mother hurried from her door to greet Jessica, she placed kiss after kiss on her face, hugged her, and tears flowed from joy of an unforgettable reunion 21 years in the making.Her father, a sturdy man with crew cut, hugged and kissed her, red eyes watering from emotion, and then the sisters and brothers all joined in the greeting that completed a circle of uncertainty, anxiety, and finally into an ecstatic release of pent-up energy. Any observer will enjoy these embraces that celebrated the lives of all involved, especially Jessica’s remarkable journey from that tiny child in the adoption home surrounded by others wondering if anyone would come to welcome them into a new family, or leave them because of a disability.
The Baltimore Long family carefully guided Jessica wherever her passion for physical exercise and sport would lead. Gymnastics, running with prosthetics were early options but swimming was by w0far Jessica’s favorite and she fell madly in love with the sport.
Long was named Tatiana Olegovna Kirillova when born and spent her first year at Irkutsk in an orphanage, an 18-hour train trip from her birth-place of Bratsk, before her adopted parents brought her to Baltimore, Maryland.
Jessica had a double leg amputation when 18 months old as she was born with fibular hemimelia. The lower part of Long's legs were amputated when she was 18 months old but despite the disability she loved swimming and was determined to succeed and did, as she became a Paralympic champion twelve times. After learning to walk on prosthesis she went on to become a Paralympic medalist 17 times.
She won gold in the S8 100 meters and 400m freestyle as well as 4x100m freestyle in 2004 at Athens and at Beijing won in 100m and 400m freestyle, 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley in 2008.
Her Paralympic titles in 100m and 400m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 100m breaststroke and the 200m individual medley followed at London in 2012. With 13 world records, Long is a two-time US Paralympic Sports Woman of the Year.
The following videos can be viewed below.