Ocala Paralympian will compete in Tokyo

Marshall Zackery will compete in 100-meter and 200-meter dash at the Tokyo Paralympics. [Dave Miller]

Home » Community
Posted August 13, 2021 | By Lisa McGinnes, Ocala Gazette

Marshall Zackery will compete in 100-meter and 200-meter dash at the Tokyo Paralympics. [Dave Miller]

On Aug. 10, Ocala runner Marshall Zackery boarded a plane to Tokyo to join Team USA at the Paralympic Games.

It’s a trip that just six weeks before seemed unlikely after the visually impaired sprinter missed earning a spot on the team at the track and field trials in Minneapolis.

“At that point, I thought my season was over,” Zackery said. “They told me, just train and run again next year. I didn’t give up, but what I did was decompressed myself from track and field. It was track and field for the last four years. I worked out, got back in the gym, doing cross-training with basketball and other things to get my mind off track and field.”

Then, on Aug. 4, Zackery got the call from Team USA. A spot opened up – and he would fly across the world to join his team in less than a week. He immediately shifted back to track and field training and working with his coach, Tony McCall.

“I’m ready. I stayed ready,” Zackery said. “It’s not a point of rushing to get back into shape because I’m still in shape. It’s more a fact of getting back and just doing the track and field movements and working with my coach. I just have to get back in the motion of doing track and field movements.”

Zackery, a native of Ocala and graduate of the College of Central Florida (CF), first ran track as a high school student at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine.

It was not an instant love affair. Zackery confesses he hated track in high school.

He took it up to stay conditioned for basketball. But he showed talent, making it to regional competition in his senior year.

Then, in 2017, while attending CF, Zackery met Regas Woods, a Paralympian and world championship bronze medalist in the long jump.

Woods and his coach McCall were working out at the CF gym.

Suddenly, at age 23, the college student who hated track in high school now found himself training for the 2017 Desert Challenge Games in Arizona. He’s since run in two World Para Athletic Championships, in London in 2017 and in Dubai in 2019.

“Ever since 2017, I always had my eyes on the Paralympics,” Zackery said. “I had to go to two world championships in the meantime. I just had a few barriers to get through before I got there. And now that I actually made it, it just feels great because now I’m a true Paralympian. I have that title under my name… If I bring home a gold medal, I will be happy. If I bring home a silver, I’m happy. If I bring home a bronze, I’m still happy. And if I don’t even medal, I’m still happy for the opportunity. I know I worked hard for four years to get this opportunity, so I’m going to do my absolute best.”

Zackery expects to run the 100-meter dash on Aug. 30 and the 200-meter race on Sept. 3. The Paralympic Games will be broadcasted and streamed on NBC.

newspaper icon

Support community journalism

The first goal of the Ocala Gazette is to deliver trustworthy local journalism so corruption, misinformation and abuse are not hidden from the public or unchallenged.

We count on community support to continue this important work. Please donate or subscribe: