London Spy

Swimmer wins gold exactly a year after being blinded

London Spy

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The Paralympics has had the capacity to inspire and amaze on a near daily basis, but one achievement amid all the incredible stories coming out of London 2012 stands out.

American swimmer Brad Snyder triumphed in the 400m freestyle at the Aquatic Centre on Friday night for his second gold of the games - a fantastic achievement.

However, it was even more remarkable when you consider that this moment of triumph came exactly one year after he was blinded in Afghanistan when trying to defuse a bomb.

The navy lieutenant trod on an improved explosive device in Kandahar and the explosion took away his sight permanently.

Exactly 365 days later, though, he conquered the world in his discipline at the Paralympic Games.

"I don't think about what happened every day, but especially today it was hard not to," he said.

"But they don't cause me pain. They are great memories, in a way, because they contrast all the fun we've had today with what was a relatively miserable day a year ago."

Despite his ordeal, Snyder says he does not feel bitter towards his Taliban attackers.

"They believe in what they are doing, and we believe that what we do is right," he said. "They fight courageously and we fight courageously right back. I don't blame anyone."

His story is a remarkable one, and Snyder says that throwing himself into swimming has been key to his recovery.

"It lets me be good at something again," he said.

"It has helped enormously in my recuperation. When I was in the navy, I was good at a lot of things: running, jumping, electronics, dismantling bombs. I dismantled four in Afghanistan.

"All of that has been taken away from me. There are many aspects of life I can't do, things in regular life I find frustrating. I can't walk to the practice pool without the help of my coach.

"But put me on a block and I can dive in and execute a race. Swimming has brought me a lot of confidence and a lot of solace for this new life of mine."

And a couple of gold medals too...

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