FREDERICK, Md. - A Maryland athlete has returned home from PyeongChang with gold.
Team USA’s sled hockey team won the gold medal at the Winter Paralympic Games defying crazy odds. They tied the game with just 35 seconds left in regulation. In overtime, they scored the golden goal in sudden death to take down Canada in South Korea.
For one member of that team, he has defied long odds to succeed and has been doing it his entire life.
“Pure elation,” said Team USA sled hockey player Noah Grove. “Definitely a top moment in my life so far.”
While the 18-year-old helped his country defeat Team Canada, it is nothing compared to what Grove had to beat before he was even in grade school.
“He was diagnosed with bone cancer, osteosarcoma, when he was 4,” said Chris Grove, Noah’s father. “He got treated at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and by the time he was 5, he had his left leg amputated below the knee.”
The surgery saved Noah’s life.
“There were nine other kids during his treatment that came in that tried to save their leg and all nine of them passed away unfortunately,” said Noah’s father.
Noah said he was too young to know any better and he never felt different.
“Instead of a disability, it was a special ability,” said Dr. Jeffrey Toretsky of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
“I just want to succeed to be honest with you,” said Noah.
“It wasn't until he started playing sled hockey that he really found a sport to be passionate about,” said his father.
That passion turned into a national team tryout. Within a few months, there was a spot on Team USA. It led to his first Paralympic Games at just 18 years old.
“That's something that Noah had – his drive was to be the best at something,” said Dr. Toretsky. “Not just to be competent, not just to do it well, but to be the best.”
Now, Noah is among the best in the world and he has the hardware to prove it. He wants to pay that forward to the future Noah Groves that might be going through the same thing that he went through.
“I want to become an orthopedic oncologist to help kids that were just like me,” he said.
“Noah will now be a role model for the next generation,” Dr. Toretsky said.
Noah's drive and all his accomplishments – those on the ice in South Korea and those to come in the future – have all been the result of a simple mantra.
"Every time I wasn't confident in something I was doing, I would say to myself, ‘I got this,’” Noah said.