Paralympian Scout Bassett opens up about her life, anti-Asian discrimination

Paralympian Scout Bassett recently opened up during an interview about her life growing up in the U.S., her training for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and her thoughts on the rise of anti-Asian hate in the country. 

Left out: Bassett, 32, was born in Nanjing, China, and spent most of her childhood years in an orphanage, where she endured years of abuse, starvation and forced child labor, the athlete recalled in an interview with Self Magazine.

 

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  • The athlete does not know how she ended up in the orphanage at 12 months old, but she had already lost her lower right leg and was covered in burns and scars from a chemical fire when she got there. She had to use a makeshift prosthetic made with masking tape and leather belts.
  • She was eventually adopted at 7 years old by Joe and Susan Bassett. She moved to Harbor Springs, Mich., in 1995. Being the only minority in her grade, Bassett was often excluded from social gatherings, such as classmates’ birthday celebrations.
  • “I hated P.E. class because we would pick teams,” she recalled. “And of course, I was never the first. I was always the last or at the very bottom. There were all these everyday reminders of why you didn’t belong.”
  • Although she was given an everyday prosthetic, Bassett still struggled with sports. In 2001, when Bassett was 12, her family saw Stan Patterson, a renowned prosthetist specializing in high-performance prosthetics.
  • Bassett received her first running prosthetic two years later. She had her first run in Orlando and placed last, but she claimed that moment changed her life forever: “When I put on this running leg, suddenly the thing that really held me back was no longer holding me back.”

Pressing on: Despite the uncertainty of the Tokyo Paralympic and Olympic Games due to COVID-19, Bassett and her coach continued with her training in public parks in San Diego.

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  • Although she tried to keep in racing shape and be prepared physically, Bassett admitted she struggled mentally. “I live alone, so that was really tough, because going to the track every day — having my teammates and coach and other people — is really the only social interaction I get.”
  • Bassett now trains five to six days a week to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, which will take place between Aug. 24 and Sept. 5, the official announcement states.
  • This upcoming event will be Bassett’s second entry into the Paralympics. She first participated in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, where she placed 5th in the 100-meter race and 10th in the long jump.
  • She has won two bronze medals since the start of her athletic career, according to her Team USA profile.

Anti-Asian hate: Bassett also spoke about how Asians are underrepresented in the media, entertainment and sports. She discussed her struggles with the increasing cases of anti-Asian hate in the country amid the pandemic.

 

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  • “The more recent violence has just been heartbreaking and devastating,” she shared. “When it first started, I thought, I wish America loved Asian people as much as they love our food. Because they’re happy to love sushi and ramen and Chinese food and whatnot.”
  • The athlete, however, is thankful that there are now more cultural conversations about Asians and Asian identity.
  • “What is great about this movement is that I feel like that narrative is changing. We are not the silent, submissive, just-stay-quiet group,” she declared. “And that you’re seeing voices that are speaking out and talking about their experiences.”

Featured Image via SELF (left), P&G (Procter & Gamble) (right)

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