Declan Farmer participates in a training session ahead of the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 3, 2022 in Beijing.
BEIJING — At his Paralympic Winter Games debut in 2014, Declan Farmer was often nervous, his hands shaking and sweaty at times when chatting with others about his play on the ice. The U.S. sled hockey forward was only 16 then and in his second year on the national team, yet he still racked up three goals and an assist in Sochi on his way to winning an ESPY for Best Male Athlete with a Disability.
Eight years later, a different Farmer has showed up in Beijing as the alternate captain. He holds his head up high as he purposely makes direct eye contact with everyone he speaks to. Professional and poised, he emulates everything a leader should be.
“I think back to Sochi and the older guys on that team, and they were my age now,” he said. “In Sochi, Brody (Roybal) and I were the young guys by quite a few years, and now that I’ve been a part of this group for a long time, I’ve picked up more of a leadership role. I was in Nashville the last couple of years with many of these guys training and took charge of a lot of the training there without any coaches, which gave me more confidence in being a leader of this team.”
The top-ranked U.S. sled hockey team opened Paralympic play in Beijing on Saturday with a 5-0 thrashing of second-seeded Canada, With a goal and three assists in the game, Farmer surpassed Joe Howard as the U.S. all-time Paralympic points leader with 26 career points.
“I first got into the sport in 2010 — now Josh Pauls is the only guy left from that gold-medal winning team — and got close to a lot of those guys such as Taylor Lipsett, Steve Cash and Taylor Chace, so there have been great players over the years,” Farmer said. “This is a testament to even how much better our team has gotten, as you can’t put up points without a really good supporting cast. I’m sure that record will be broken many times over the years.”