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Kaleo Maclay on her disability, family and Tokyo 2020 ambitions

Mafalda Costa August 24, 2021
Kaleo Maclay on her disability, family and Tokyo 2020 ambitions
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Tokyo Paralympics will be Kaleo Maclay’s third Games and first as a mother, she told Us Weekly. The sitting volleyball player was born with a club foot and surgery as a baby involved the removal of her calf muscle. Read on to find more about Maclay’s disability, husband, and kids.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Who is Paralympian Kaleo Maclay?

Kaleo Okalani Kanahele Maclay was born on 11 June 1996 in Oklahoma.

She is the starting setter for the US women’s sitting volleyball team, who she helped win gold at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.

The Tokyo Paralympics will be Maclay’s third time at the Games – and the first as a mother, she told Us Weekly.

The sitting volleyball player was born with a club foot, and surgery in the first year of her life involved the removal of her calf muscle.

According to Sports Spectrum, Maclay’s mother encouraged her to get involved in several mobile activities to teach her how to adapt.

She started playing volleyball at the age of ten and was introduced to sitting volleyball shortly after.

According to her Team USA profile, Maclay began training with the US Paralympic sitting volleyball team in 2009 at 12 years old.

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“Because I really grew up being fully mobile and (my disability) was congenital, I really learned to use (my leg) like you would normally,” Maclay told Team USA.

“So I do have a lot of limitations, but it didn’t really limit me to play volleyball or play sports. I just had to adapt to whatever it was.”

Sitting volleyball involves a lowered net and requires players to stay seated at all times.

Kaleo Maclay: husband and kids

Kaleo Maclay married Matt Maclay in August 2016.

The couple have a son, Duke, who was born in 2017.

Talking about being unable to see her son during the Paralympics, Maclay told US Magazine: “It’s a big sacrifice to leave him for so long… it’s just the longest I’ve been away from him, but I’m really excited. I think it’ll be fun for him to watch.”

While pregnant with Duke, Maclay competed at the 2017 ParaVolley World Super 6.

Maclay owns two businesses – Flower & Flour, a coffee shop/bakery/florist in downtown Oklahoma City; and Cookies By Kaleo, selling custom decorated cookies.

Talking about her business, Maclay told healthyish: “I started baking right after the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. I asked myself, ‘What do I want to do, who do I want to be when all of this is over?’… So I started experimenting with cookie decorating to rediscover my creative side.”

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Alongside her husband Matthew, Maclay is also a youth pastor.

Hopes for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

On Tuesday, 17 August, Maclay posted a video on Instagram where she addressed the Paralympic Games.

She wrote: “As we wait for the chance to defend our gold medal I just ask for prayers – prayers for our team, our health and mental well-being…

“The gold is near and I can feel it – so add that to the prayer list too ANOTHER GOLD that will hold the beauty of resilience, hope and togetherness.”

Team USA is set to play on Saturday, 28 August.

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Mafalda Costa is a second year BA Journalism student originally from Portugal. Her main passions if life are music, arts and culture, while she's particularly knowledgable on cinema and anime.