LONDON – What a difference a year made for Navy Lt. Brad Snyder.
On Sept. 7, 2011, Snyder lost his sight when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) while serving in Afghanistan. Tonight, he stepped on to the top of the podium at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
"It's not a poor anniversary,” said Snyder, who won the men’s 400m freestyle (S11). “I'm really looking forward to celebrating how far myself and my family have been able to come over the past year."
With one event remaining on his program, he has two gold medals and a silver.
"I'll have a lot of friends and family in the stands tonight,” he said. “It's a special night for all of us and we are going to look at this evening as a celebration. A celebration of conquest, if you like. Regardless of the outcome, we are all happy to be together, being in London and enjoying the experience."
His time, 4:32.41, was nearly six seconds faster than the 4:38.24 time of defending champion Enhamed Enhamed of Spain. China’s Bozun Yang, who won silver at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, finished in 4:41.73, a time good enough for bronze.
"I am not exceptional,” Snyder said. “I have just been provided with an exceptional family and an exceptional support network and I've been able to make the most of some great opportunities that have come my way. It's just a situation of exceptional circumstances and I feel very, very fortunate to be here today as opposed to where I was last year at about this time."
His medal was one of six Team USA claimed in the pool Friday.
Americans Rebecca Anne Meyers and Kelley Becherer went 2-3 in the women’s 200m individual medley (SM13). On the third leg of the race, defending world champion Becherer was overtaken by eventual champion Valerie Grand-Maison of Canada and Meyers.
With American Roy Perkins back in the pool in the men’s 50m butterfly (S5), favorite Daniel Dias of Brazil knew it would probably take a world record to win his fifth title at the Games. And the Brazillian did exactly that, setting a world record 34.15 seconds. Perkins settled for silver.
Tucker Dupree claimed the bronze medal in the men’s 50m freestyle (S12), coming in behind Ukrainian Maksym Versksa and Russian Aleksandr Nevolin-Svetov. It was a familiar podium as the trio occupied the podium in the exact same order not only in the 100m freestyle (S12) in London but also in the 50 at the 2010 world meet.
The team of Susan Beth Scott, Anna Johannes, Jessica Long and Mallory Weggemann also claimed a bronze medal in the women's 4x100m medley relay (34 points).