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Former Navy Officer Continues to Beat Odds After Stroke

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

LONDON, Sept. 9, 2012 – Many U.S. Paralympic athletes have persevered through tough circumstances and refused to give up after acquiring a disability.

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Steven Peace, center, a Navy veteran and 2012 U.S. Paralympic road cyclist, rides his first lap through a tough, looping course at the Brands Hatch racing track for the 24-kilometer road race during the Paralympic Games in London, Sept. 8, 2012. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
  

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Former Navy Lt. Cmdr. Steven Peace, 38, is no exception. He continues to beat the odds after a stroke left him without the use of the right side of his body.

Following his 24-kilometer cycling road race at the Brands Hatch track venue here yesterday, where he placed fifth out of 19 competitors, Peace shared his story of personal triumph.

“Five years ago, I had a stroke,” Peace said. “My right side was paralyzed, and I had to do something to keep in shape, being in the military.”

In 2006, Peace suffered the debilitating stroke at his San Diego home. He was not discovered for 14 hours, and as a result, he experienced loss of strength in his right arm and leg.

“I spent 16 years in the military,” he said. “I had planned on making it my career. And then the stroke [happened]. They kept me as long as they could – two more years.”

After he left the Navy, Peace picked up cycling after learning about the sport during rehabilitation at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. The former lieutenant commander learned of Operation Rebound, a program designed for injured veterans, and took up the sport.

The U.S. Naval Academy graduate spent five years in Japan during his 16-year Navy career, which also took him to San Diego; Norfolk, Va.; Annapolis, Md.; and Monterey, Calif.

The Navy veteran said he faced many challenges as he committed to cycling.

“I had some difficulty with my bike,” Peace said. “[Since] my right side is not used, I had to find a way to shift all of the controls.”

Because he doesn't have the use of his right side, the cyclist added, he has to ride off-balance.

“Two years ago, I wouldn't have been able to ride this course,” he said. “But I slowly built up to it. I put on different things on my bike, and I pretty much said I could ride it.”

Peace offered his advice to other wounded warriors and veterans who may find themselves doubting their abilities because of illness or injury.

“Don't ever give up,” he said. “You never know how good you are until you get out there and you try to do it.”

Peace described his time at the 2012 Paralympic Games as an “unbelievable” experience.

“I never thought I would have the opportunity to represent my country like this,” Peace said. “It's great, and I love the USA.”

 

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Related Sites:
U.S. Paralympics
Special Report: Military Paralympians

Click photo for screen-resolution imageSteven Peace, a Navy veteran and 2012 U.S. Paralympic road cyclist, rides past fans while negotiating a hill as he completes the first of three laps for the 24-kilometer road race at Brands Hatch racing track during the Paralympic Games in London, Sept. 8, 2012. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageNavy veteran Steven Peace, a 2012 U.S. Paralympic road cyclist, outraces a competitor downhill on a tough, looping course for the 24-kilometer road race at Brands Hatch racing track during the Paralympic Games in London, Sept. 8, 2012. Peace took fifth place out of 19 competitors. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageNavy veteran Steven Peace, a 2012 U.S. Paralympic road cyclist, takes fifth place in the 24-kilometer road race at Brands Hatch racing track during the Paralympic Games in London, Sept. 8, 2012. Peace was the only U.S. athlete among 19 competitors in the event. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.  
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