BELTON, Mo. - A Belton man is in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Paralympic Games.
Bryan Price is an Army veteran who was paralyzed from the waist down while he was deployed to Iraq in 2006.
“I was paralyzed by a roadside bomb,” he said. “I was on a regular patrol, every day patrol and was hit by an IED on my Humvee.”
As someone who has always loved sports, Price didn’t let his disability stop him. He simply transitioned to wheelchair sports.
“Before, it was something I enjoyed. Now, not only do I enjoy it, but it's something that's become mandatory for me to do,” said Price. “It helps me with my PTSD and it's part of my therapy.”
Last year, Price caught the attention of a Paralympic scout, who saw him compete at the National Veteran Wheelchair Games. The scout invited him to try Nordic skiing.
“I love playing any type of sport, so it was great,” Price said.
Growing up on a small farm in Leeton, Mo., south of Warrensburg, Price played any sport he could get involved in. But he never thought cross-country skiing was in the future.
“When I was a kid, I actually watched the biathlon,” he said. “I was like, ‘that is the coolest sport ever.’ I never thought I would have the chance to start cross-country skiing.”
Even though he only picked up the sport last year, Price’s time in competition was good enough to qualify for the U.S. Paralympic Team.
“I had no expectations of making the team,” Price said. “I was pretty excited because I didn't think there would be the slightest chance of me going.”
He left for Russia last Sunday. He is competing in four cross-country ski events: 1km Sprint, 10K, 15K and 4 x 2.5K open relay.
“You always ski for gold, always do the best you can,” said Price. “I'm really just happy to be there.”
Not only for competition, but also for the friendships he will make with other athletes.
“We're competitive against each other but we also realize that each other has had to overcome such great barriers to be where they're at,” Price said.
Price is already thinking ahead to South Korea in 2018, saying when, not if, he competes.
“I've only been doing this sport for seven months so I can't imagine what four years and seven months is going to look like, how much faster I will be,” Price said.
Price is also looking forward to adding biathlon to his competition list in four years. He did not qualify for this year’s Paralympic Games, but he said it’s his favorite sport so he is confident he will compete in biathlon in South Korea.
For a complete schedule of Paralympic events, visit www.paralympic.org .