A double-amputee Navy SEAL won a gold medal in biathlon Saturday at the PyeongChang Paralympics.
Dan Cnossen, who served in Afghanistan, won the first men’s biathlon event of PyeongChang Games, the 7.5-kilometer sitting competition with a victory margin of more than 10 seconds.
“In the last Games that I did in Sochi, I let the TV screens and the announcer get to me and today I just focused on what I can do and nothing else matters,” Cnossen said, according to TeamUSA.org. “I crossed the line and I wasn’t even going to look at the board and I was pleasantly surprised at the end.”
Saturday’s win was his first medal in 25 career biathlon and cross country events at the world championships and Paralympics dating to 2011, NBC Sports reported. He had finished 14th at the Sochi games.
Cnossen, 37, of Topeka, Kan., was serving as a Navy SEAL in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when he was injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) in September 2009, his team profile said.
He learned his legs had been amputated just above the knee when he woke up after being unconscious for eight days.
“I will always remember Dan,” former first lady Michelle Obama said of Cnossen during a White House visit after the Sochi games. “Dan’s come a long way in the four years that we met, and I know that his story and the stories of all our Olympians and Paralympians are nowhere near finished.”
Cnossen was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor and a Purple Heart. He is working on his Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Theological Studies at Harvard, The Boston Globe reported.
Also winning a gold medal on Saturday in the women’s biathlon sitting classification was Kendall Gretsch, of Downers Grove, Ill.
Gretsch and Cnossen will go down in history as the first Americans to win biathlon gold in the Paralympic or Olympic Games, TeamUSA reported. The best-ever finish in either Games was Andy Soule’s bronze medal at the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver.