Elexis “Lex” Gillette wove advice into his story of losing his sight as a child, discovering and honing his abilities as a long and triple jumper, and becoming a Paralympian who has won medals at every major international competition in which he has participated.
“A lot of people have perfect sight but don’t have 20/20 vision,” he said in the Wayne Community College Disability Employment Awareness Month event. His ability to visualize possibilities eclipses his disability.
Recounting how he had landed on concrete instead of sand in the long jump event of the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships, Gillette said, “A lot of times in life, people find themselves missing the mark. The difference is what you do about it.” After he was medically cleared to continue in the competition, he garnered the gold medal with his next jump.
He shared four steps to gaining success that bear out his personal slogan, “No need for sight when you have a vision.” They are:
1) Envision your highest goal. “What is the one thing you want so bad in life that you are willing to fail over and over and over to get it?”
2) Take a risk. “You have to take a shot in the dark.”
3) Identify a plan for becoming the best. “Not YOUR best, but the absolute best. Fulfill your potential. You need a plan in everything that you do.”
4) Get up and go after it. “You can dream about it. You can talk about it. But if you don’t do anything about it, it is useless.”
“No matter what obstacles you have in life, you can always come out on top,” Gillette said “Whatever it is that you have going on in your life … know that that thing may be tough at times, but you have what it takes.”
The only totally blind athlete to exceed the 22-foot barrier in the long jump, Gillette is a current world-record holder in the long jump, a four-time Paralympic medalist, a three-time long jump world champion, and an 18-time national champion.
A Raleigh resident with roots in Kinston and La Grange, Gillette is currently training in California to make his fifth consecutive United States Paralympic team with the goal of winning gold in the 2020 Paralympic Games.
Wayne Community College is a public, learning-centered institution with an open-door admission policy located in Goldsboro, N.C. As it works to develop a highly skilled and competitive workforce, the college serves 12,000 individuals annually as well as businesses, industry, and community organizations with high quality, affordable, accessible learning opportunities, including more than 70 college credit programs. WCC’s mission is to meet the educational, training, and cultural needs of the communities it serves.