Countdown to Lyon: Two active duty military athletes competing

By Jamie M. Blanchard | July 18, 2013, 2 p.m. (ET)
Casey Tibbs
Chief Petty Officer Casey Tibbs of the U.S. Navy will represent Team USA at the 2013 International Paralympic Committee World Championships.

At the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships, July 19-28, in Lyon, France, 12 military athletes will be among the 76 athletes representing Team USA.  

Through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense, U.S. Paralympics provides thousands of opportunities for veterans and service members with physical disabilities to compete in Paralympic sport at the recreational, intermediate and elite levels, including competing at events like the IPC Athletics World Championships.

With two days until the first competition on July 20, learn more about the two active duty athletes who will represent the U.S. in Lyon.

Sergeant Rob Brown, U.S. Army

U.S. Army Sgt. Rob Brown was always an athlete. After competing in track for two and a half years at the collegiate level, he left the track to join the U.S. Army as an infantryman, and was deployed to Iraq.

On Sept. 24, 2006, Sgt. Brown was injured in firefight with insurgents. He suffered multiple gunshots to the hip, one of which cut his sciatic nerve, leaving the lower half of his right leg without sensory or motor functions. His leg was amputated in 2008.

Sgt. Brown, who is now a part of the Army World Class Athlete Program, spent time rehabilitating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. as a member of the Warrior Transition Brigade. Then he attended a sports camp in Seattle that reintroduced him to sport. With help from U.S. Paralympics, Sgt. Brown became an athlete again.

On Friday, Sgt. Brown will lead Team USA into the Opening Ceremony of the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships, as he was elected flag bearer by his teammates on July 17. Sgt. Brown will compete in the men’s 400-meter T44 event in Lyon. The semifinal is July 25 with the final slated for July 26.

Sgt. Brown is training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., with hopes of competing for Team USA at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Chief Petty Officer Casey Tibbs, U.S. Navy

In 2004, Chief Petty Officer Casey Tibbs of the U.S. Navy made history by becoming the first American active-duty military member to compete in a Paralympic Games. He topped off the achievement with two medals: silver in the pentathlon (P44) and gold in the men's 4x100m relay. At the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China he captured gold in the 4 x 100m relay (T42-T46) and a bronze in the long jump (F42/F44).

Tibbs added a bronze medal to his collection in 2011, earning third place in the men's long jump (F44) at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand. In Lyon, Tibbs will compete in the long jump, hoping to win a gold medal.

Tibbs is currently living in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife and children. He was the first amputee to complete Navy SERE training (Survival Evasion Resistance and Excape), as well as the first amputee to become an Aircrewmen through the U.S. Navy Aircrew school.  

Tibbs lost his right below the knee as the result of a motorcycle accident in March 2001.