“A brave heart is a powerful weapon, and people should never let their challenges define who they are”
At an age when most children must be reminded to brush their teeth or take out the trash, Rudy Garcia-Tolson was charting his course to Ironman® Triathlon victory and Paralympic gold. Unfortunately, that road was paved with significant challenges. Born with multiple birth defects, Rudy endured 15 surgeries by the age of five before telling his parents he would prefer a double leg amputation. Soon after, Rudy began to swim and run, participating in his first triathlon at age 8, as the swimmer in a winning relay team. By age 10, on a visit to Ossur in Iceland, he provided product input which became key in the development of the Flex-Run™ prosthetic. Shortly thereafter, Rudy completed the first of many individual triathlons.
Today he is a multi-hyphenate. Rudy is a swimmer, runner, cyclist, triathlete, ESPN's ARETE Courage in Sports Award Winner, ESPY nominee, motivational speaker and four-time paralympian.
Competitive sports became a powerful physical outlet and source of motivation, prompting the young Rudy to promise he would swim in the 2004 Paralympics. Eight years later, he made good on his promise when he swam to gold at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games and again in Beijing 2008. Rudy continued competing in triathlons and in 2009 at Ironman Arizona, he became the first double above-knee amputee to complete a full Ironman Triathlon.
“That’s the moment that I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
On a day-to-day basis, Rudy uses Össur’s RHEO KNEE, Pro-Flex XC and Iceross Sport Liners with Pin System and Össur’s Flex-Run and Cheetah Xtend for athletics. As a five-time Paralympian (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020) and five-time medalist, Rudy devotes himself to inspiring the younger generation of challenged athletes reminding them to “never let people tell you that you can’t do something. Prove them wrong. The only disability in life is a negative attitude.”
“Never let people tell you that you can’t do something. Prove them wrong. The only disability in life is a negative attitude.”