Afghanistan War Veteran Becomes First SEAL Double Amputee to Win Gold at the Paralympics

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Dan Cnossen is living proof that there’s no limit to our abilities. The former Navy SEAL has just won a gold medal at the 2018 Winter Paralympics. Cnossen, a double-amputee, won the first men’s biathlon competition. And he didn’t just win, he won big. The next closest competitor was more than 10 seconds behind him.

Cnossen won in the 7.5-kilometer sitting competition handily. “In the last games that I did in Sochi,” he said after the win, “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.”

“I crossed the line and I wasn’t even going to look at the board and I was pleasantly surprised at the end.”

The win is Cnossen’s first. He’s been competing since 2011. Cnossen was in Afghanistan in September 2009 as the platoon commander for SEAL Team One where he stepped on an IED.

After surgery at the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center and rehab at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Cnossen began his current mastery of prosthetics.

The seated biathlon combines shooting and skiing. His ski has two blades, though his legs are together the way they might be on a traditional wheelchair.

When he shoots, though, he shoots prone. He can’t dismount from his skis, which much be a an added challenge.