FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Feb. 25, 2015) – More than 50 wounded, injured and ill Service members from five military installations converged on Fort Belvoir, Feb. 9-13, to compete in the first of several regional-level sporting events, which will determine which athletes will advance to the Army trials and qualify to compete in a major Department of Defense, or DoD, competition slated for this summer.
The competition this summer may not be called the Warrior Games, as it has been known for the past five years as military athletes in adaptive sports have competed against the best from other services. The competition may not take place at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs this year, officials said. However, they said the level of adaptive sports will be just as intense and qualifying events are underway.
The Belvoir competition, sponsored by Northern Regional Medical Command, included shooting, cycling, swimming, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and track and field. The competitors came from U.S. Army warrior transition battalions at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Fort Belvoir, Fort Bragg, Fort Knox and Fort Eustis.
The regional competition gave athletes a chance to earn a trip to the U.S. Army Trials at Fort Bliss, said Cynthia Vaughan, U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command public affairs officer. Team Army will be named after those trials and compete in a DoD competition later this summer.
Athletes started the week’s events, Feb. 9, with shooting clinics, when marksmen refined their skills in weapon handling; loading and shooting techniques; and firing at small targets downrange. The official competition began Feb. 11 at outdoor recreation’s indoor range. More than 20 team-trials hopefuls participated in the three-hour event that included air rifle and air pistol shooting.
After the shooting competitions, the cycling events began at Pullen Field. Nearly 20 athletes took to the pavement on standard, hand and recumbent bicycles and followed a course around the Long Parade Field and Garrison Headquarters areas of the installation.
Riders started at the parking lot behind the Pullen Field grandstands, then rode to the Officers’ Club and back, said Roger Wollenberg, Military Adaptive Sports Corporation media specialist.
“The hand cyclists ran two laps; the recumbent bikes did four, and the uprights rode six laps total,” Wollenberg said.
Members of Fort Belvoir’s police department closed off sections of Belvoir Road to ensure the cyclists’ safety and USO Metro provided trainers and refreshments.
Athletes wrapped up the opening day of official competition with swimming events at Benyaurd Indoor Pool later that afternoon.
These annual sporting events represent the pinnacle of the Army’s adaptive reconditioning program for wounded warriors recovering at the Army’s Warrior Transition Units, according to U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command. After overcoming significant physical and emotional injuries, these men and women demonstrate the power of ability over disability and the spirit of competition.
As part of the athletic training, Soldiers participate in a wide range of physical activities that support their physical and emotional well-being and contribute to a successful recovery, whether they are transitioning back to active duty or to civilian life.
Since 2010, nearly 200 wounded, ill, and injured Service members and veterans have competed in major DoD sporting events. Athletes compete each year in sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, swimming, cycling, track and field, archery and competitive shooting. Each military branch selects members for its respective team and, this year, the Army hosted regional training and selection clinics for athletes around the country.
For more information about the Army’s adaptive sports and reconditioning programs, visit www.wtc.army.mil, or call Steve Smutak at 571-231-5062 or email stephen.a.smutak.ctr@mail.