Meet the Athletes

Rudy Garcia-Tolson

Rudy Garcia-Tolson

Rudy Garcia-Tolson is looking for a three-peat. He won gold medals in the last two Paralympic Games in the 200 meter individual relay, setting a world record in 2008 that still stands: 2:35.92. Now he is working hard to win again in London this year.

Garcia-Tolson, now 23, was born with Pterygium Syndrome, a condition that produces disabilities in the legs, hands, and face. At the age of five, when more than a dozen surgeries could not correct the problems with his legs, he and his family decided on amputations. After, Rudy says, “I always had kids and other people telling me that I couldn’t do things. For me, that’s what motivates me, fuels me. I want to go out and prove them wrong.”

The result has been more than twenty medals in both swimming and track, including two golds and a bronze at the Paralympics in 2004 and 2008; a gold and a bronze at the IPC swimming World Championships in 2010; and a gold, two silvers, and a bronze at the 2011 Pan Pacific Championships.

It’s also earned Rudy a position in history as the first double above-knee amputee to finish an Ironman Triathlon, the Ford Ironman Arizona in 2009. "Triathlons are fun because it is just you and the road. It's kind of like swimming in that way, since it's a very mental and tough sport. Also, it provides some great cross-training for swimming. “

Swimming is his focus, now. “Only the craziest of the crazies decide to be swimmers,” Garcia-Tolson has said. “You wake up 5 a.m. and put in three to four miles in the pool even before the sun comes up; then you put in the time in the weight room and do it all over again the next day. The mental toughness and preparation it takes to become a world-class swimmer is something that only a handful of people have in this world.”

Rudy Garcia-Tolson is on Twitter @rudygtCAF, on Facebook at, and he will be blogging for MEDAL QUEST in July.

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