A Jumbo Presence at the Paris Games

A climber and a rower seek gold in this summer’s Olympics and Paralympics

Jesse Grupper, E19, and Alex Flynn, E26, will represent the U.S. at the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris. Their time as Jumbos helped both realize this dream.

Grupper, who will compete in the sport of bouldering and lead climbing, was already a youth national champion when he came to Tufts. His experiences on the Tufts climbing team and as a mechanical engineering student sharpened his commitment to all of his pursuits.

“Tufts had one of the best teams at the time, and the infrastructure was really there to allow me to be able to continue pursuing this dream of climbing alongside going to a very rigorous school,” he said. “Finding that balance in a school really allowed me to progress in the sport.”

A climber near the top of a wall at an indoor gym.

Climber Jesse Grupper at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. Photo: Lena Drapella

Grupper achieved his Olympic dream by winning gold at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, to qualify for Paris.

“Ultimately I just want to be able to arrive at the Olympics feeling like I’ve done all the work that I could have possibly done to do my best,” Grupper said. “Then I want to leave the event feeling like I’ve given it my all, put in a good fight, and that I’ve done something that I’m proud of.”

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Flynn made the U.S. Paralympic Rowing team and will compete as part of the PR3 mixed four with coxswain. The PR3 category is for people with a verifiable disability who can still use the functionality of their legs, trunk, and arms. Flynn has a left clubfoot, which prevents him from bending the foot upward and has resulted in muscle atrophy to the calf on his left leg.

Despite this challenge, Flynn began rowing as a high school student, and his passion for the sport grew quickly. When he aspired to continue rowing in college along with studying engineering, Tufts was an obvious choice.

A four-person crew boat on the water.

Rower Alex Flynn, second from left, qualified for the Paralympics at a selection camp this past January in Sarasota, Florida. Photo: Rachel Rane

“It's apparent the Tufts program has helped Alex grow both as a person as well as an oarsman,” said Tom Siddall, former Tufts men's rowing assistant coach, who now is the head coach of the PR3 4+ World Team. “He has a very consistent, level-headed, and aggressive approach.”

Flynn and his teammates were chosen for the Olympics after competing at a selection camp held in January in Sarasota, Florida.

“I am super excited to be able to represent the United States and Tufts at the Paris Paralympics this summer,” Flynn said. “The team is very strong, and we are striving to bring back gold.”

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