Josh Pauls (C) celelbrates with his teammates Jen Lee, Jack Wallace aand Noah Grove after defeating Team Canada in the gold-medal match at the Paralympic winter Games Beijing 2022 on March 13, 2022 in Beijing.
BEIJING — At just 29 years of age, U.S. captain Josh Pauls became the first sled hockey player to win four career Paralympic gold medals Sunday with Team USA’s 5-0 win against Canada at the National Indoor Stadium.
The defenseman’s career has spanned 14 seasons and four Paralympic Winter Games, with gold-medal celebrations at center ice after all of them.
Pauls finished the tournament at the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 with nine points — tied with teammate Jack Wallace for most by a defenseman — and in the team’s second preliminary-round game against South Korea, took over the top spot for most Paralympic games played by an American. Pauls has hit the ice in 18 games, exceeding Joe Howard’s previous record of 16.
“The saying is ‘It’s lonely at the top,’ so I’m glad I’ve got my brothers with me,” Pauls said. “It’s pretty incredible, especially the way this team has battled and grown over the past four years. It’s such a great experience to have been around these guys most of their careers, and it’s hard to put into words.”
Growing up in New Jersey, Pauls was born without tibia bones and had both of legs amputated at 10 months old. He had hopes of becoming the first NHL goaltender with no legs. After a few years and some convincing from his parents, he joined the local New York Rangers sled hockey club in 2002. He attended Lindenwood University in St. Louis, a city where he has played for many years with the Disabled Athletes Sports Association’s Blues.
Level-headed and well-respected, he has grown leaps and bounds since making his Paralympic debut at the Paralympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010, where he was the youngest member of the U.S. team that won gold at 17. He’s now a four-time Paralympic and five-time world champion, while also working in finance as an account executive.