Paralympics 2021: Who is the former US navy bomb disposal expert who has won gold in triathlon?

Brad Snyder lost eyes in 2011 explosion in Afghanistan

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Saturday 28 August 2021 01:52
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<p>Para triathlete Brad Snyder poses for a portrait during the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympics shoot on November 20, 2019 in West Hollywood, California.</p>

Para triathlete Brad Snyder poses for a portrait during the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympics shoot on November 20, 2019 in West Hollywood, California.

He is a retired US navy bomb disposal expert who was totally blinded after stepping on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

And now he is a gold medal winner at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

Within a year of his injuries Brad Snyder had become a Paralympic athlete and won three medals in the pool at London 2012.

He won gold in the 100m freestyle and also the 400m freestyle, which actually took place on the one year anniversary of his injury, and he also took home a silver medal in the 50m freestyle.

The US navy was an almost inevitable career choice for Snyder as three of his four grandparents had been in the service.

Snyder’s father was injured at the Battle of Midway, and while recovering fell in love with his nurse and eventually married her.

Snyder, who lives in Baltimore, graduated in 2006 from the US Naval Academy, where he swam competitively, and was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the Navy’s elite bomb disposal squad.

It was during his second deployment in 2011 that he stepped on the IED, triggering an explosion.

The blast caused shrapnel to shoot into his face, causing him permanent blindness and doctors later surgically removed his eyeballs and replaced them with prosthetics.

Paratriathlon made its debut at the games in 2016, but Snyder was still competing in the pool, where he won three more gold medals and another silver.

Gold medalist Bradley Snyder of the United States celebrates on the podium at the medal ceremony for the Mens 50m Freestyle S11 Final during day 5 of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (

Now the 37-year-old, who was born in Florida, has switched from swimming to paratriathlon in Tokyo.

For his first Paralympic triathlon, Snyder will have Olympic triathlete Greg Billington, who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, as his guide.

It is the guide’s job to keep the Paralympic athlete on track during the swim and run, before joining them on the tandem for the cycle.

The athletes will swim 750m, cycle for 20km and run for 5km and all of the races will be held at Tokyo’s Odaiba Marine Park, the same venue where the Olympic triathlon competitions were held.

The Paralympic triathlon events will take place Friday 27 August and Saturday 28 August.

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