(born 1988) is an athlete on the United States Paralympic
team. He competed at the 2004 Summer Paralympics
and in the 2008 Summer Paralympics
Garcia-Tolson was the subject of The Final Sprint's December 2006 "Success Story"; a monthly column that aims to highlight remarkable and factual accounts of runners who have overcome major obstacles and/or changed their lives via running.
Garcia-Tolson lives by a simple motto: "A Brave Heart is a Powerful Weapon." He was born with rare, multiple birth defects – a combination of crippling Pterygium Syndrome
, a club foot
, webbed fingers on both hands, and a cleft lip and palate
At age five, after 15 operations, he told his parents he wanted to move on; he would rather be a double amputee
than continue to put up with what his life had become. He had both legs removed above the knee.
When Garcia-Tolson was eight years old, he told the world he would swim in the 2004 Paralympic Games
. He was true to his word and won the gold medal in the 200 meter individual medley
and broke the world record for his class.
In 2008 Beijing Olympics
, when he was 20, he won the gold medal at the Paralympics, setting a new world record.
Garcia-Tolson continues to swim as a member of the U.S. Paralympic Elite Team. He has completed numerous triathlons
individually, and won several prestigious awards, including the Arete Courage in Sports Award and the Casey Martin Award from......