A seven-time Paralympic medalist who was permanently blinded while serving the U.S. military in Afghanistan clinched the first-ever gold medal for the United States on Aug. 28 in the men’s PTVI race at the Olympics Games in Tokyo, Japan.
“I’m incredibly proud to be a gold medalist for Team USA in the sport of triathlon,” Brad Snyder told Olympics.com.
“And I think my victory was a testament to the team dynamic that we’ve been able to establish,” the history-making U.S. Paralympic gold medalist added. “The Paratriathlon team is a really special group of remarkable individuals.”
Snyder crossed the finish line together with Greg Billington, his guide and fellow American triathlete who competed in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The 37-year-old Nevada-native completed the triathlon event in a time of 1:01:16, just three years after he switched categories following a successful Paralympic swimming career during which he won seven medals, including five golds.
“I’m incredibly proud… We’ve been training together now for three weeks, getting ready for the Games and for every athlete who has been able to stand on top of the podium we’ve had another three or four who have been right there with us every step of the way,” Snyder said.
“And the most prideful moment for me on the podium yesterday was to hear my teammates calling to me and making them proud. So I’m really excited to be a gold medalist in this sport, but I know it’s in large part due to my team,” he continued.
Teammates. Friends. Brothers. ❤️@BradSnyderUSA and @Grillington let the emotion pour out as they cross the line in the men’s PTVI #ParaTriathlon #Tokyo2020 #Paralympics @worldtriathlon @TeamUSA pic.twitter.com/wXhn4VMSbL
Snyder completed the triathlon event a full 55 seconds ahead of silver medalist Hector Catala of Spain. The bronze medal was taken home by Japan’s Yoneoka Satoru.
Snyder previously competed in the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, winning a total of seven medals for swimming in the 400-meter, 100-meter, and 50-meter freestyle races and the 100-meter backstroke.
Snyder, a U.S. Navy lieutenant who served as an explosive ordnance disposal officer in Iraq and Afghanistan for seven years, permanently lost his eyesight after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan in 2011 while he attempted to help victims of another bombing.
“Thankfully, I was alone when I got hurt, so it only affected me and, thankfully, it detonated a short distance in front of me … which largely saved my life and saved my limbs,” he said during an interview with CNN.
The wounded military veteran spent about three weeks in intensive care and was later transferred to Florida, where he recovered for another five weeks.
“When you’re kind of patching your life back together and figuring out how to adjust to blindness, you’re not good at anything. Walking was a challenge. Cooking’s a challenge. Dressing and color matching is a challenge. There are all these things that used to be no problem that are all of a sudden really challenging. I had a hard time getting the right amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush,” he said in 2013.
From NTD News