Mourning the loss of Randy Snow

Nov. 20, 2009, 6:57 p.m. (ET)

The U.S. Olympic Committee is mourning the loss of Paralympian Randy Snow who passed away November 19 in El Salvador where he was conducting a tennis clinic for the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

The wheelchair tennis legend was an ambassador for the sport and had an impressive athletic career.   As a gifted athlete, he excelled not only at tennis, but also at wheelchair basketball and wheelchair racing.  He was one of the most influential leaders in the Paralympic movement  and in July, 2004, he became the first Paralympian inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

Watch his acceptance speech

 "The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic family is tremendously saddened by the passing of Randy Snow," said Stephanie Streeter, Acting CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee. "Randy was an outstanding athlete and the first Paralympian to be inducted to the U.S. Olympic Committee Hall of Fame. He was passionate about teaching others with physical disabilities about sport, and has become an icon to so many who have been impacted by his efforts and his leadership. Randy will always be remembered for his greatness as an athlete, mentor and role model."

Originally, a top-ranked tennis player in Texas, Snow took up wheelchair tennis after he was paralyzed from the waist down in a farming accident when he was crushed by a 1000 pound bale of hay.

He attended the University of Texas at Austin in 1977 where he established a wheelchair basketball team with the guidance of wheelchair sports director Jim Hayes from the University of Texas at Arlington. After transferring to Arlington in order to train with Hayes, Snow became the best wheelchair tennis player in the United States. He also competed in wheelchair racing.

At the 1984 Olympic Games, Snow competed in the men's 1500 meter wheelchair race as an exhibition event. As the first Paralympic event to appear before a large audience, the public had mixed feelings for wheelchair athletes. Snow earned a silver medal and standing ovation once the race completed.

Eight years later, at the 1992 Paralympic Games in Barcelona, Snow captured two gold medals in singles and doubles wheelchair tennis with his best friend and wheelchair tennis founder, Brad Parks. Snow was formerly ranked number one in the world and won the U.S. Open wheelchair singles title ten times and the doubles title six times.

Snow also competed at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney before he lost in the third round of the singles competition to eventual gold medalist David Hall of Australia.

At the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta,  Snow was a member of the bronze medal-winning wheelchair basketball team.

Snow will be remembered during a Celebration of Life ceremony on Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. at the Terrell Performing Arts Center, 400 N Poetry, Terrell, TX 75160

Following the Memorial Service, Turning Point will be holding a reception at the First Baptist Church Recreation Outreach Center, 403 N Catherine, Terrell, TX 75160.