Paralympics offers inspiration
TribLIVE Sports Videos
LONDON — The explosion that took away Brad Snyder's sight couldn't touch the Navy lieutenant's fighting spirit.
A year after Snyder stepped on an improvised explosive device laid by Taliban that he was trying to detect while on duty in Kandahar, the American is swimming at the London Paralympics — and adding sporting medals to his military ones.
“It was pretty much immediate that I (decided I) was going to try and minimize my blindness as much as possible, and get out and pursue success,” Snyder told The Associated Press. “Thankfully my support network was pretty savvy and said, ‘You should check out this Paralympic swimming thing.' ”
Snyder is glad he listened, having quickly excelled with the same determination he applied to clearing IEDs in one of the most dangerous Afghanistan assignments.
Before Friday's anniversary of the blast, Snyder has already been on the London podium twice: winning gold in the 100-meter freestyle and silver in the 50.
“This is something every kid dreams of when they are 8,” he said. “I remember Tom Dolan winning the 400 IM in Atlanta (at the Olympics).
“Through blindness I've been able to experience a level of competition I never would have otherwise. So in a way I am very thankful for that.”
Snyder is one of many servicemen in London using sport to aid their recovery after being horrifically injured on the front lines of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.
“I hope that my generation,” Snyder says, “the warriors coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq who are lying in bed missing a limb or whatever and they don't know what's next, can see my story and say: ‘Hey, that's for me. If he can do it, I can too.' ”
Snyder's remarkably fast journey from the battlefield to elite sporting competition began soon after he discovered he would never see again. He is one of the lucky ones, as shown by the tattoo commemorating a fallen comrade that adorns his chest.
“In my line of work, I had seen quite a few injuries due to blasts, and none of them were very good,” Snyder said. “I was able to see out of my left eye for a brief moment after I was blown up.
“I looked down and saw I had both my legs and both my arms, and immediately felt relatively optimistic about the outcome. I felt very thankful that maybe this isn't going to be so bad.”
There are 20 wounded servicemen on the U.S. Paralympic team, with six veterans of the Afghanistan or Iraq conflicts.
“To put a different uniform on, to put a track uniform on instead of my country's combat uniform — it's a big honor,” Chris Clemens said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Harrison awaits go-ahead from Tomlin before practicing
- 4 ejections, benches-clearing scrum mark Pirates’ win over Reds
- Zimbabwe alleges Murrysville doctor illegally killed lion
- Slot cornerback Boykin should give Steelers options in secondary
- Pirates notebook: Burnett says ‘surgery is not an option’
- Inside the Steelers: Roethlisberger strong in goal-line drills
- Steelers notebook: WR Bryant sidelined after minor procedure on right elbow
- Pa. breeding ground for corruption, experts say
- Pittsburgh airport improvements noted as CEO tries to expand activity
- 2 teens drown in Lawrence County creek
- Making environmentalism divisive