Have you heard of Rudy Garcia-Tolson? Although he’s not exactly a household name, the Paralympian might be one of the most inspiring athletes. After experiencing several birth defects, Garcia-Tolson lost both of his legs at a young age. He refused to let this stop him. Now, he’s a world champion athlete at the Paralympic Games, which take place during years that correspond to the Olympic Games.
Like many athletes, Garcia-Tolson struggled to find a place to train during the coronavirus pandemic. He found help in a rather unlikely place: the home of actor David Duchovny. Here’s the story of how they linked up.
Who is Rudy Garcia-Tolson?
According to his profile on TeamUSA.org, Garcia-Tolson is a Paralympian swimmer whose events are the 100-meter breaststroke, the 100-meter butterfly, and the 200-meter IM. Standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing 140 pounds, Garcia-Tolson was born in 1988 in Bloomington, California.
Garcia-Tolson was born with several complications including a club foot, a cleft lip and palate, webbed fingers, and Pterygium Syndrome. He underwent 15 surgeries before his fifth birthday, eventually expressing his desire to have both legs amputated instead of going through the pain of more procedures. He never allowed these things to slow him down.
Garcia-Tolson has had a wonderful career full of marvelous achievements (more on those below) and has become an inspirational figure. He’s been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and CNN. He also won ESPN’s ARETE Courage in Sports Award and was nominated for an ESPY.
Along with being a symbol of hope and inspiration, he also gives back to the community as well. He works with a charitable organization called the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Garcia-Tolson is in high demand as a speaker as well, imparting his message that “a brave heart is a powerful weapon.”
Garcia-Tolson’s Paralympic record
He’s a four-time Paralympian and a five-time medalist, with two gold medals, two silvers, and one bronze. He’s currently one of only three athletes to compete in four Paralympic Games for the U.S. (Cody Bureau and Jessica Long are the other two.) Here’s what Garcia-Tolson has accomplished in the Paralympic Games:
- Rio, 2016: One silver medal
- London, 2012: One silver medal
- Beijing, 2008: One gold and one bronze medal
- Athens, 2004: One gold medal
Of course, like any world-class athlete, Garcia-Tolson had people helping him along the way. His coach, Nathan Manley, supports him, along with his parents and family. He also has the support of an unlikely person, even in a year when the Olympics and Paralympic Games are canceled.
How David Duchovny helped Rudy Garcia-Tolson train
The New York Times did a feature on Garcia-Tolson and his attempts to find a place to train during the COVID-19 pandemic. When he was looking for a place to stay sharp and swim during the lockdown, Garcia-Tolson received an Instagram message that he said was “one of the great messages of my life:”
“It was from a woman who said she worked with the actor David Duchovny, telling me to get in touch with her about finding a pool to train in. She gave me his number and told me to reach out. When I did, he told me he had a 25-meter, one-lane pool in his backyard. I was welcome to use it whenever I wanted. I just needed to give him a little notice.”
He then went to the X-Files and Californication actor’s house to train and has made multiple visits to his place since. According to Garcia-Tolson, as of the writing of the New York Times piece he’d gone over to Duchovny’s to train 12 times. He also noted that he’d met Duchovny 20 years ago at a triathlon in California.
Garcia-Tolson is proof positive that being dealt a tough hand in life is no reason to give up on your dreams. And Duchovny is proof that being a famous Hollywood actor doesn’t mean you can’t also be a pretty good guy.