One-legged vet, new to sled hockey, to compete in Sochi 2014

Video by Alessandra Hickson

Rico Roman, a first generation American born to Mexican parents, says he’s always been athletic. He thought sports were over for him, however, when he had his left leg amputated after a roadside bomb struck his vehicle during his tour in Iraq in 2007.

Six years later, the veteran and Purple Heart recipient who served in the U.S. Army for nine years, is on the U.S. Paralympic Winter Games sled hockey team and will be competing in Sochi, Russia in 2014.

2014 Winter Olympic Games - Season 2014“It’s great to have groups like Operation Comfort there to help veterans get back on their feet,” says Roman. “Being able to play for the USA team, I would never have dreamed this in my wildest dreams.”

Operation Comfort is an organization which provides support, through adaptive sports, to service members who have been wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq and are receiving treatment in San Antonio, Texas.

Originally from Portland, and now based in San Antonio for his treatment, the national sled hockey champion says he only played the sport for the first time five years ago, thanks to Operation Comfort.

“The best part of the hockey team is we have an all-veteran team,” says the 32-year-old. “”For us being injured overseas we’re separated from our other guys. Being on that team in San Antonio brought that comradery, those friendships I once had with my guys and I still have today.”

Roman spends his days training for the Paralympics. He says he does a lot of rowing, medicine ball training and also chopping wood, because sled hockey involves a lot of core strength to balance on the blades.

“Out of all of my accomplishments, I’m happy for all of them,” says Roman. “I’m just happy I got to serve my country…I’m just happy to be alive and happy to be able to chase this dream.”

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