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Julia Gaffney disqualified - fans confused after swimmer receives DQ

Joshua Rogers August 29, 2021
2020 Tokyo Paralympics - Day 3
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Paralympic swimmer Julia Gaffney was disqualified from the SM7 200-metre individual medley heat on Friday. Fans were left wondering what had happened, with broadcasters failing to follow up with an explanation for the DQ.

Who is Julia Gaffney?

Julia Kay Gaffney is an American Paralympic swimmer who is currently taking part in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The 21-year-old was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency. She had her right leg amputated above the knee and her left leg amputated below the knee due to fibular hemimelia when she was born.

She resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and began Para swimming in 2015.

Super. Human. | Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Trailer

Super. Human. | Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Trailer

When asked why she loves swimming, she said: “My shoulders do get sore sometimes, but once I’m in the water I feel free.

“I can’t really run or jump. Sometimes it’s hard to walk. In the water I have more movement. In the water, I’m like everybody else.”

Her disability classification is S7, SB6, SM7, however, there was controversy after Julia Gaffney was disqualified during a recent event.

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Julia Gaffney disqualified from SM7 200-metre individual medley.

On Friday, Julia Gaffney was disqualified from the SM7 200-metre individual medley heat.

Qualifying via the heat was the only way to reach the final, meaning Gaffney is out of medal contention.

However, there was plenty of confusion as to why Gaffney received the qualification.

The DQ meant all eight swimmers moved on to the medal race.

Berube, the 26-year-old in her third Paralympics, touched the wall in 3:06.64. She’ll be aiming for her first career medal.

Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Fans left confused over Gaffney’s disqualification

Fans watching the event were unhappy with NBC’s coverage after failing to clear up why Julia Gaffney was disqualified.

The broadcast simply carried on without any follow up or explanation.

Neither the International Paralympic Committee nor any of the broadcasters have cleared up why Julia was disqualified.

Possibly explanations could be that she entered the pool before the other athletes, and went too early at the start Or she had an issue in her lane, potential crossing the allowed boundary.

However, as yet these theories are unconfirmed, and at the time of writing (29 August), there has still been no update.

Fans are understandably upset at the lack of updates, venting their frustrations online.

Gaffney wins bronze medal

On Sunday (29 August), Julia Gaffney won bronze in the Women’s 400m Freestyle S7.

Italy’s Giulia Terzi won silver and fellow Team USA athlete McKenzie Coan took gold.

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Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.