LONDON, England (AFP) — Brad Snyder won a swimming gold medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games yesterday — exactly a year to the day since he lost his sight in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.
Snyder won the men's 400m freestyle S11 gold at the Aquatics Centre.
A lieutenant in the US navy, the bomb disposal officer lost both of his eyes after stepping on an improvised explosive device.
"I really focused on my performance and put my emotions away. This was a whim of a dream last February so for it to come true, it is very, very exciting. I am absolutely elated with the outcome," he said.
"The crowd is so emotional, it's hard to put that out of my mind. But after the military I am conditioned to do that quite well.
"The best aspect of swimming is to be good at something again. During my time with the military I was pretty good at a diverse range of skills such as jumping, diving, electronics and explosives.
"My capability in all those regards was stripped off me without my eyesight. I can't do any of those things as well as I used to.
"To be able to hop back in the pool and feel good at something, it gives me a lot of confidence back in the things I struggle with.
"Get me to the block and I can execute a great race."