25 Things You Don’t Know About Paralympic Sprinter Jarryd Wallace (‘I Used to Wear Harry Potter–Esque Glasses’)

Jarryd Wallace
Jarryd Wallace on July 23, 2016 in London, England.  Matt Lewis - British Athletics/British Athletics via Getty Images

The Paralympics aren’t totally going Jarryd Wallace’s way. The sprinter just missed medaling in his signature event, the 100 meter, and then, after appearing to win the 4×100 relay, the U.S. was disqualified for passing outside of the zone, keeping them from a world record and gold.

Despite the rough week, Wallace is still set for a good year (see No. 1 below). The 26-year-old, who lost his right leg in 2010 after complications from surgery for compartment syndrome, shared his list of 25 things you don’t know about me with Us Weekly.

1. This is also my wedding year. I’m pushing my fiancée, Lea, to use #goldmedalsandweddingrings as our wedding day hashtag.

2. Before I went pro in track and field, I made it to the INT Wakeboarding Nationals for my age group when I was 12. I placed eighth, so I didn’t do too badly for a kid, but thankfully, I’m better at sprinting!

3. I wasn’t exactly a middle school style icon. I used to wear Harry Potter–esque glasses with transition lenses and use Sun-In to spray my hair blond.

4. The weirdest job I ever had was working as a tennis racquet stringer for two years. I grew up playing tennis and picked up stringing rackets as a side job while in high school. If my Team USA teammate Serena Williams ever needs an emergency racquet repair, she can call me anytime.

5. I’ve always loved music and playing my guitar and piano. One of the most exciting opportunities I’ve had was to play in my hometown of Athens, Georgia, at the AthFest music festival.

6. I once scored 17 goals in a soccer game. Never mind that it was on the small kid goals before they had goalies.

7. I love being on the lake! I’d take a day at the lake over a day at the beach anytime. I grew up on the lake and started water-skiing by the time I was 6, wakeboarding by 7 and barefoot-skiing by 8.

8. My guilty pleasure is Oreos. I will eat all of the Oreos in the house and can easily put back a whole sleeve with a big glass of milk. I love all of the varieties, but red velvet is so hot right now.

9. I’ve never been good at spelling and grammar. So it’s a nice bonus that my fiancée has a master’s degree in education. P.S. Thanks, Lea, for making sure I don’t make a fool out of myself when I have to write things like this!

10. Some people would be surprised to learn that I haven’t always been a sprinter. Before I lost my leg, I competed in the 800 and mile in high school. Learning how to sprint gave me a whole new appreciation for the hard work that goes into the shortest events in track and field.

11. Nirvana was my jam in high school. Before every track meet, I would listen to them for my prerace hype tunes.

12. Last November I became the proud puppy daddy to the cutest dog in the world. Luna is a Hungarian vizsla, and her coat is the most gorgeous copper color. You may think I’m biased, but she is the best dog ever.

13. Last year I became a homeowner, and I love having my own place that I can customize with my own touch. One of the first projects I tackled was building a coffee station from an old pallet. It's always important to have a place for your coffee!

14. Fourteen was always my number in team sports!

15. I’m a volunteer coach for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, where I help out with the sprints. While I love mentoring the student athletes, I think I get more out of the relationship then they do. They are always pushing me to be my best and keep training hard.

16. I have three tattoos; they are pretty big and cover both sides of my abdomen. I got my first done right after I had my leg amputated. I have the words “faith, peace, adversity, endurance, strength, pain, hope and family” on my left side in the shape of a cross. On my right side, I have the Bible verse Corinthians 9:27 and the USA Track and Field wing logo.

17. I love mentoring young athletes who are also amputees. There is actually a British family I’ve been in touch with for a while, and their daughter Sofia is 11 years old and wants to run in the Paralympics one day. Her whole family visited me in Athens, Georgia, last year for two weeks, and I got to spend a lot of time at the track with Sofia. Watch for her on Team GB in 2024!

18. I love coffee! If I’m slowing down in the afternoon, all I need is a double shot of espresso and I’m ready to go!

19. My friends always give me a hard time for making up words in conversation or using “fancy” words completely out of context during conversation to try and sound eloquent or smart. They call it a Jarrydism.

20. I love to play golf! I have a 12 handicap and try to play as often as I can. It’s also my favorite sport to watch on TV.

21. I eat pretty healthy most of the time, but my splurge is Grandpa’s country fried steak breakfast from Cracker Barrel. If I’m going to splurge, I’m going all-out!

22. Reruns of How I Met Your Mother never get old.

23. My favorite place to travel is currently to Nashville to see my fiancée and watch some great live music.

24. Hands down, my favorite holiday is Christmas. There is nothing better than getting together with all of my family to celebrate the birth of Jesus, spending time together and eating my mom’s delicious cooking.

25. My favorite movie is Braveheart. I’m such an active guy, it’s rare for me to sit in front of the TV for three hours, but that movie sucks me in every time.

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