NewsDeclan Farmer

Declan Farmer Ready To Help U.S. Defend Paralympic Sled Hockey Gold Medals

by Dan Scifo

Declan Farmer competes in the preliminary round against South Korea at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 13, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.

 

Declan Farmer is only 23 years old, but he’s already a seasoned sled hockey veteran and one of the leaders on the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team.
Farmer admits that he’s more of the lead-by-example type.
“I think a lot of guys lead in their own ways,” Farmer said. “You don’t have to wear a letter to be a leader. I’ve built close relationships with everyone on the team, having been here for so long. Just having those relationships is leadership in itself because you know guys well, they believe in you and you believe in them. Establishing that trust between teammates is big.”
Farmer certainly has that trust from his teammates. Farmer, who was born a bilateral amputee, has been playing sled hockey since he was 9, and he made his first U.S. National Sled Hockey Team when he was 14 years old.
“It’s weird that I’ve been doing this for a decade, but it has been part of my life for so long,” Farmer said. “I made the national team the summer before my freshman year of high school, so it’s really been part of who I am. It’s been the defining feature of my entire adolescence and adult life so far, and I can’t imagine what my life would be like without being on the national team and the Paralympic teams.”
Most recently, Farmer helped the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team capture the gold medal in 2018. Farmer netted 17 points in five games. He also tied U.S. and Paralympic records for goals in a single Paralympic Winter Games with 11, including the tying and winning goals against Canada in the gold-medal game.
“I think there have been a lot of great sled hockey players who have come through Team USA,” Farmer said. “Just to be on similar rankings and lists with them, it’s a tremendous honor. I grew up admiring those guys, so it’s really cool.”

Farmer still vividly remembers the game-tying and gold medal-clinching goals.

Declan Farmer competes in the gold-medal game against Canada at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 18, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.

 

With one minute to play, Canada held a 1-0 lead and Team USA had an extra attacker on the ice. Farmer scored the game-tying goal with 37.8 seconds to play, and he netted the game-winning goal with 11:30 left in overtime to clinch the gold medal.
“I came in late, found a loose puck and scored,” Farmer said. “I remember everyone’s reaction because we were so emotional and pumped up. The thought crept into our heads that we could lose, but we kept trying our hardest to tie the game. Guys were still yelling in excitement when we were lining up for the faceoff, and we were forcing ourselves to calm down and finish the rest of regulation. It was unbelievable.”
Farmer is a two-time gold Paralympic gold medalist, as he helped the U.S. to the top prize in PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018 and also four years earlier in Sochi, Russia. That Paralympic debut launched him into stardom as he led the team in goals and points in Sochi. He was named Best Male Athlete by the International Paralympic Committee and later that year was named Best Male Athlete with a Disability at the annual ESPY Awards. Farmer is also a three-time world champion, as he most recently led the U.S. to the 2021 Para Sled Hockey World Championship this past June.
“That’s what you dream about when you’re going through tough workouts … you’re imagining the game-winning goals, playing at the highest level and those kinds of things,” Farmer said. “I feel very grateful that I have those memories of celebrating with our teammates. Everyone was so happy and it was such a special moment that the team and staff shared together.”
Now, Farmer and the U.S. are looking for more during the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, as the Americans enter the event as the three-time defending gold medalists.
“There’s a lot of competition, and we have to be prepared for that,” Farmer said. “Just because we’ve won in the past, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to happen again. We have to be ready for everyone’s best.”


Dan Scifo is a sportswriter from the Pittsburgh area. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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