U.S. Paralympics Chief Lauds Athletes, London Games
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
LONDON, Sep. 8, 2012 The Paralympic movement continues to grow as competition improves and opportunities to compete increase, providing fundamental growth to this burgeoning movement, the U.S. Paralympics chief said here Sept. 5.
Charlie Huebner, far left, chief of U.S. Paralympics, and Brian Loeffler, center, coach for the U.S. men's Paralympics swim team, share their thoughts on the 2012 Paralympic Games during a news conference in London featuring Navy Lt. Bradley Snyder, second from left, at the 2012 London Paralympic Games, Sept. 5, 2012. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Charlie Huebner, chief of the U.S. Paralympics Committee, praised the American team's athletes for their performance during a news conference honoring Navy Lt. Bradley Snyder, one of three active duty service members, participating in the 2012 Paralympic Games.
“We're very proud of the American team, and we're winning some medals … and we have more opportunities,” he said. “And we're also very proud of the 20 members of the armed forces and veterans that are on our team this year.
“They're great ambassadors for our nation, obviously, with our friends in the United Kingdom, we have a pretty unique partnership,” Huebner said. “And they're also excelling … in competition. I'm just very pleased with how things are going.”
The U.S. Paralympics chief recognized Great Britain for its hospitality and organization of an “incredible environment for both the Olympic Games and these Paralympic Games.”
“I just wanted to compliment the London Organizing Committee, [and] the people of the United Kingdom,” Huebner said. “These games are fabulous, as you can see.”
Huebner reaffirmed the U.S. Olympic Committee's commitment to enhancing Paralympic opportunities for those with disabilities.
“The reason this movement exists is [that] it’s very personal for us,” he said. “We have been asked to play a leadership role by the Department of Veteran Affairs, Department of Defense and congressional leaders in the United States. The U.S. Olympic Committee's expertise in physical disabilities and in multiple sports made it an obvious choice to lead the charge of enhancing the program, he added.
“There's a great need in the United States, not just for injured service members and veterans, but for kids with physical disabilities to have local community programming to be able to simply participate in physical activity,” he said. “In 2008, we started a community-based program, now in 183 communities, called the Paralympic Sport Club Program,” Huebner said. “We're committing to growing the availability of programs in the United States.”
The U.S. Paralympics chief also noted the importance of including service members and veterans, like Snyder, in the U.S. Paralympics program.
“The military and veteran piece is critical us, and we have great partnerships with our government, the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Defense,” Huebner said.
Snyder has won Paralympic medals, he added, and the U.S. Paralympics Committee wants to succeed in competition while also providing opportunities for people with disabilities.
“We want to get more people involved in physical activity and sports, … but we also want to be successful in the games,” he said.