‘It’s OK not be OK’: Charlotte athlete sets world record at Paralympics in Tokyo

CHARLOTTE — A local Paralympian is bringing a gold medal home to Charlotte.

Nick Mayhugh won gold medal and set a world record in the 100-meter race at the Paralympics in Tokyo last weekend.

“It was emotional,” said Thomas Mayhugh, Nick Mayhugh’s brother.

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Thomas Mayhugh is his brother’s coach and watched the race from Charlotte because COVID-19 restrictions kept him from travelling to the games.

The brothers have spent countless hours training on the track at Johnson C. Smith University on the road to Tokyo. Thomas Mayhugh is his brother’s strength and conditioning coach and knows the work it took for him to get on the Olympic podium.

Nick Mayhugh is midfielder for the United States Para 7-A-Side National Team and decided to compete in track at the Paralympics as a sprinter. That meant training a completely different set of muscles. As a soccer player, Nick Mayhugh has the endurance muscles so he had to train for sprints.

“It wasn’t like it just clicked. It was getting more frustrating and then started to make sense,” said Thomas Mayhugh.

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Nick Mayhugh is used to overcoming those frustrations until things make sense. He has a mild form of cerebral palsy, which went undiagnosed until he had a seizure in high school.

“When he was younger, we just thought he was being a class clown type of dude and couldn’t play the recorder and didn’t wanna do it. He was failing music class because he couldn’t feel the holes (in the recorder),” said Thomas Mayhugh.

The disability impacts Nick Mayhugh’s motor skills on his left side. However, that didn’t stop him from competing as a professional soccer player and elite athlete.

Now, he is an Olympian -- and a gold medal one at that.

Thomas Mayhugh said his brother was initially embarrassed about his disability. Nick Mayhugh now wants to use his platform to bring awareness to the Paralympics and to show others they can reach their own finish lines.

“Nick tells people, ‘It’s OK to not be OK. I was embarrassed and I shouldn’t have been because look at where I’m at now. These are possibilities for you,’” said Thomas Mayhugh.

Nick Mayhugh wants to bring more medals home to Charlotte with three more races left to compete in Tokyo.

“We want the sweep,” said Thomas Mayhugh.

(WATCH BELOW: US tops gold, overall medal counts in Tokyo Olympics)