WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 7, 2014) – Winning a total of 71 medals, the Army team took home the prestigious Chairman’s Cup Saturday, from the 5th annual Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The Chairman’s Cup is awarded to the top overall service branch at the Warrior Games and it’s a prize that the Marine Corps had claimed for the first four years of the games.
This year, the Army team of 40 wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and veterans earned 17 more medals than the Marines, who finished with a total of 54. Army athletes took home 23 gold medals, 27 silver and 21 bronze in seven adaptive sports.
Army’s medal run began Sept. 29, with two gold and two silver medals in cycling. Then on Tuesday, Army surged into the lead with 27 medals in the swimming competition. Active-duty 1st Lt. Kelly Elmlinger took three of Army’s seven golds, placing 1st in the three classes she entered: women’s 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle and the 50-meter backstroke.
Teammate Army Reserve Sgt. Kawaiola Nahale grabbed gold in the 50-meter breaststroke and three silvers in the 50-meter backstroke, 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle.
In the men’s competition, medically Retired Maj. Raymond O’Donnell captured golds in the 50-meter freestyle and the 50-meter backstroke. He also snatched up three silvers in the 100-meter freestyle, 50-meter backstroke and the 50-meter breast stroke. Combat medic Master Sgt. Rhodeen Galloway brought home one gold, two silvers and a bronze medal.
“Being able to come here today and represent the Army in swimming meant a lot to me, it shows how far I’ve progressed. I’ve come full circle since having much of my body rebuilt,” said O’Donnell, whose pelvis and hips were shattered and his spinal cord damaged when he was thrown from his Humvee while serving as an advisor in Afghanistan.
“These Warrior Games are an incredible platform for us to go out there and compete with our brothers and sisters from the other branches of the service,” O’Donnel said.
On Wednesday, Army earned the first team medals with gold in archery and a bronze in sitting volleyball. Army archers also took four individual medals.
Then on Thursday, Army athletes took 30 medals in track and field. Army swept the women’s 1,500-meter run with Katie Kuiper earning gold, Samatha Goldnstein silver and Anne Oravec bronze. Army also swept the women’s shot put with Monica Southall taking gold, Kadina Baldwin silver and Jessica Brennan bronze.
Army’s Michael Smith earned four golds; he won the 100-meter dash, 200-meter competition and 400-meter dash. He also captured the men’s discus-throw gold with a final of 28.52 meters. Army’s Kelly Elmlinger also tied for a silver in the mixed 100-meter dash with a 20.84-second run, seconds ahead of some of the men.
On Friday, the Army took four medals in shooting and a silver in wheelchair basketball, where the Marines finally bested the Army, 43-30.
“Over the past five years, the Warrior Games have been a celebration of overcoming great adversity and a representation of the strength and the heart of all American service members,” said Col. Chris Toner, commander of the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command and assistant surgeon general for Warrior Care and Transition.
“Army athletes showed true commitment and dedication to their sport. They exemplify our warrior ethos of never giving up, and I am left forever impacted by the champion performance of all of the athletes over the past week of competition. Congratulations to each of you on your victories and winning this year’s Chairman’s Cup.”
The Chairman’s Cup was presented to Army team captain Frank Barroquiero by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey prior to the Air Force-Navy football game Saturday at the Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs.
The overall medal count for the 2014 Warrior Games:
— Army: 71 medals
— Marine Corps: 54 medals
— Air Force: 48 medals
— Navy/Coast Guard: 28 medals
— Special Operations Command: 22 medals