Navy veteran Brad Snyder adds historic paratriathlon gold to his seven Paralympic swimming medals

2020 Tokyo Paralympics - Day 4
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Brad Snyder won gold the first time he entered a pool for a Paralympic competition nine years ago, and he repeated that feat Saturday morning the first time he stepped on a Paralympic triathlon course.

Both times, Snyder had never before won a major international competition in the respective sport.

One of the most recognizable U.S. athletes competing at the Tokyo Paralympics, the U.S. Navy veteran won gold in the men’s PTVI classification (for athletes with a visual impairment athlete) just three years after switching sports from swimming to paratriathlon.

His gold is the first medal by an American at the Olympics or Paralympics in a men’s triathlon event. Paratriathlon debuted five years ago in Rio, where there was a visually impaired event for women, but not men, making Snyder the first visually impaired man to medal in the sport as well.

His best results in paratriathlon prior to this weekend included bronze at a 2019 ITU World Paratriathlon Series event and gold at this year’s Americas Triathlon Para Championships. He was sixth at his World Championships debut in 2019.

Snyder and guide Greg Billington, a 2016 Olympian, led the race from start to finish and crossed the line in 1:01:16, nearly a minute ahead of Spain’s Héctor Catalá Laparra (1:02:11). Satoru Yoneoka took bronze in 1:02:20 in his home country.

Now 37, Snyder first made global headlines at the London Paralympics when he won a gold medal in the 400m freestyle S11 on the one-year anniversary of the day he was blinded by an IED explosion in Afghanistan. He also won the 100m free and was runner-up in the 50m free in 2012. Four years later, he won gold in the 50, 100 and 400 freestyle races, plus silver in the 100m backstroke, in Rio.

Snyder is now is eight for eight, medaling in every Paralympic event he has entered, and two for two in Paralympic sports.

“It’s a big moment, obviously, because you spend so much time visualizing and hoping and preparing for it,” Snyder told media of his paratriathlon victory. “Just like in Rio and just like in London, there’s no way you can possibly imagine how good it’s going to feel – and it was really a good feeling.”

The other American in the men’s PTVI race, Kyle Coon, finished fifth in 1:03:00. Coon was also racing with an Olympian as his guide: Andy Potts. Potts was 22nd at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and won the Pan American Games gold three years later. He is also a decorated IRONMAN competitor with eight wins and 11 total podiums from 2010-2019.

Earlier in the morning, Allysa Seely and Hailey Danz repeated their gold and silver medals from five years ago in the women’s PTS2 race when they were part of a historic U.S. sweep. They are the first Paralympic triathletes to earn multiple medals, and, four days into competition, Seely is the first American who won gold in 2016 to repeat in her event in Tokyo.

Seely – who almost missed the Games after spending a large part of 2020 in hospitals with leg infections, a blood clot in her heart and an endocarditis infection – dedicated her win to the two Afghanistan athletes who were slated to compete in Tokyo until the Taliban took control and they were unable to leave the capital city of Kabul.

“I really just want to dedicate this win to everybody who have ever been told they can’t, especially to the Afghani Paralympians whose dreams were not able to be fulfilled today,” she said.

Melissa Stockwell, the first U.S. woman to lose a limb in the Iraq war, rounded out the Rio sweep with bronze but finished fifth this time. The 41-year-old served as Opening Ceremony flag bearer in Tokyo with wheelchair rugby player Chuck Aoki.

Frenchman Alexis Hanquinquant won the men’s PTS4 gold in his Paralympic debut after taking the last three world titles.

A full Paralympic Games broadcast schedule is available here. Events can also be streamed on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app, with more info available here.

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Katie Ledecky out-touches new rival at swimming’s U.S. Open, extends streak

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It was a rare sight: Katie Ledecky being matched stroke for stroke in a distance race in an American pool. She was up for the challenge.

Ledecky out-touched emerging 16-year-old Canadian Summer McIntosh by eight hundredths of a second in the 400m freestyle at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday night.

Ledecky and McIntosh were tied at the 300-meter mark. Ledecky ended up clocking 3:59.71 to McIntosh’s 3:59.79 to extend a decade-long win streak in freestyle races of 400 meters or longer in U.S. pools.

“I know we’ll have a lot more races ahead of us,” Ledecky said on Peacock. “We bring the best out of each other.”

The U.S. Open continues Friday with live finals coverage on Peacock at 6 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

At the Tokyo Olympics, McIntosh placed fourth in the 400m free at age 14.

She accelerated this year, taking silver behind Ledecky at the world championships and silver behind Tokyo gold medalist Ariarne Titmus of Australia at the Commonwealth Games.

Then in October, McIntosh outdueled Ledecky in a 400m free — also by eight hundredths — in a short-course, 25-meter pool at a FINA World Cup meet in Toronto. Long-course meets like the Olympics and the U.S. Open are held in 50-meter pools.

McIntosh also won world titles in the 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley, becoming the youngest individual world champion since 2011.

A potential showdown among Ledecky, Titmus and McIntosh at the 2024 Paris Games is already being compared to the “Race of the Century,” the 2004 Olympic men’s 200m free where Australian Ian Thorpe edged Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband and Michael Phelps.

In other events Thursday, Regan Smith, an Olympic and world medalist in the backstroke and butterfly, won a 200m individual medley in a personal best 2:10.40, a time that would have placed fifth at June’s world championships. She beat 16-year-old Leah Hayes, who took bronze in the event at worlds.

Olympic 400m IM champ Chase Kalisz won the men’s 200m IM in 1:56.52, his best time ever outside of major summer meets. Frenchman Léon Marchand won the world title in 1:55.22 in June, when Kalisz was fourth.

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Eliud Kipchoge, two races shy of his target, to make Boston Marathon debut

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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World record holder Eliud Kipchoge will race the Boston Marathon for the first time on April 17.

Kipchoge, who at September’s Berlin Marathon lowered his world record by 30 seconds to 2:01:09, has won four of the six annual major marathons — Berlin, Tokyo, London and Chicago.

The 38-year-old Kenyan has never raced Boston, the world’s oldest annual marathon dating to 1897, nor New York City but has repeated in recent years a desire to enter both of them.

Typically, he has run the London Marathon in the spring and the Berlin Marathon in the fall.

Kipchoge’s last race in the U.S. was the 2014 Chicago Marathon, his second of 10 consecutive marathon victories from 2014 through 2019.

He can become the first reigning men’s marathon world record holder to finish the Boston Marathon since South Korean Suh Yun-Bok set a world record of 2:25:39 in Boston in 1947, according to the Boston Athletic Association.

In 2024 in Paris, Kipchoge is expected to race the Olympic marathon and bid to become the first person to win three gold medals in that event.

The Boston Marathon field also includes arguably the second- and third-best men in the world right now — Kipchoge’s Kenyan training partners Evans Chebet and Benson Kipruto. Chebet won Boston and New York City this year. Kipruto won Boston last year and Chicago this year.

American Des Linden, who won Boston in 2018, headlines the women’s field.

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