Brad Snyder won gold the first time he entered a pool for a Paralympic competition nine years ago, and he repeated that feat on Saturday morning the first time he stepped on a Paralympic triathlon course.
Both times, Snyder had never won a major international competition in the respective sport.
One of America’s most recognizable athletes competing at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, the U.S. Navy veteran won gold in the male PTVI classification (for athletes with a visual impairment) just three years after switching from swimming in the paratriathlon.
His gold is an American’s first Olympic or Paralympic medal in a men’s triathlon event. Paratriathlon made its debut five years ago in Rio, where there was a visually impaired event for women, but not for men, making Snyder the first visually impaired man to also win a medal in the sport.
His best paratriathlon results heading into this weekend included bronze in a 2019 ITU Paratriathlon World Series event and gold at this year’s Para Triathlon Americas Championships. He finished sixth on his World Championship debut in 2019.
Snyder and guide Greg Billington, a 2016 Olympian, led the race from start to finish and crossed the line in 1:01:16, almost a minute ahead of Spain Héctor Catalá Laparra (1:02:11). Satoru Yoneoka won bronze in 1:02:20 in his home country.
Now 37, Snyder made world headlines at the Paralympic Games in London when he won a gold medal in the S11 400m freestyle on the first anniversary of the day he was blinded by an FDI explosion in Afghanistan. He also won the 100 freestyle and was second in the 50 freestyle in 2012. Four years later, he won gold in the 50, 100 and 400 freestyle, as well as silver in the 100 backstroke, at Rio.
Snyder is now eight out of eight, a medalist in every Paralympic event he’s competed in and two-for-two in Paralympic sports.
“It’s a great time, obviously, because you spend so much time visualizing, hoping and preparing,” Snyder told the media of his victory in the paratriathlon. “Just like in Rio and just like in London, it’s impossible to imagine how nice this is going to be – and it was a really good feeling. “
The other American in the men’s PTVI race, Kyle coon, was fifth in 1:03:00. Coon was also running with an Olympian as a guide: Andy Potts. Potts finished 22nd at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and won gold at the Pan American Games three years later. He is also a Decorated IRONMAN competitor with eight wins and 11 podiums in total from 2010 to 2019.
Earlier in the morning, Allysa seely and Hailey Danz repeated their gold and silver medals from five years ago in the women’s PTS2 race as part of a historic sweep of the United States. They are the first Paralympic triathletes to win multiple medals and, four days after the start of the competition, Seely is the first American to win gold in 2016 to repeat in her event in Tokyo.
Seely – who nearly missed the Games after spending much of 2020 in hospitals with infections in his legs, a blood clot in his heart and an endocarditis infection – dedicated his victory to the two Afghan athletes who were due to compete in Tokyo until the Taliban took control and they could not leave the capital Kabul.
“I really want to dedicate this victory to all those who have already been told they cannot, especially the Afghan Paralympians whose dreams could not come true today,” she said. declared.
Melissa Stockwell, the first American woman to lose a limb in the Iraq War, completed Rio’s sweep with bronze but was fifth this time around. The 41-year-old was the flag bearer at the opening ceremony in Tokyo with a wheelchair rugby player Chuck aoki.
French Alexis Hanquinquant won men’s PTS4 gold in his Paralympic debut after winning the last three world titles.
A full Paralympic Games broadcast schedule is available here. Events can also be streamed on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app, with more information available here.
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