From battlefield to Tokyo: Combat vets vie at Paralympics


Tom Davis, shakes hands with Freddie De Los Santos after winning at Men’s H4 Time Trial at the Fuji International Speedway at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

FREMONT, Ind. (AP) — Twenty years after the attacks of Sept. 11, and just days after the Taliban took control of Kabul, a small group of American combat veterans competing in the Tokyo Paralympics — a corps of elite athletes who have triumphed over catastrophic injuries they suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Melissa Stockwell plays with her children, Dallas and Millie, in their home in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021. “I’ve always been an optimistic person,” she says. “Probably annoyingly optimistic to lots of people.” (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

There’s the triathlete who lost a leg when her convoy was ambushed on a bomb-cratered road.

The swimmer who went blind after stepping on a land mine in rural Afghanistan.

The sprinter who lost both legs in another Baghdad convoy.  

What unites them is a fierce competitiveness and an ability to push past disabilities that can look insurmountable to an outsider.

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