FORT MEADE, Md. -- About 70 Soldiers from across the country brought their "A" game to the Warrior Games clinics here to train and compete in sitting volleyball, track and field, and cycling, scheduled for March 8-12, 2012.
Swimming trials will also take place this week at the Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
At Fort Meade, clinics will be held for cycling on Friday and Sunday; field events on Thursday and Saturday; track on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; and sitting volleyball on Saturday and Monday.
"This is my first time at the games and I'm having a blast," said Staff Sgt. Krisell J. Creager-Lumpkins from Fort Carson, Colo., who also stepped in to help coach some of the other competitors.
Spc. Jasmine Perry from Fort Campbell, Ky., agreed.
"This is my second time at the Warrior Games and I'm excited. I did seated shot put last year and got gold in that." She remarked on her progress since then because this year she's standing up to put the shot.
Cpl. Thomas Boldon, who's about to transit out, is from Waukesha, Wisc.
"This is the first time I'm competing since high school where I ran track and field and played football," he said. At the games he's competing in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash and will try to make the relay team.
"To be able to run on this leg took me," Boldon said, "took me about a year to get the OK from the doctors and then another few months to start building up the resistance and get used to the pain. But I don't think I'm going to use the blocks because I don't think I can stop the knee to give me the push."
In other areas of the country, Soldiers will compete for a spot on the Army
team in archery, shooting and wheelchair basketball.
But only 50, from all of these clinics, will be chosen to compete for the Army in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the Third Annual Joint Services Warrior Games competition, scheduled for April 30 to May 5, 2012.
A decision on the 50 Soldiers who will continue to Colorado Springs is scheduled to be announced March 26 or 27.
The purpose of the games, created in 2010 as an introduction to Paralympic sports, is to aid in the recovery of the wounded, ill, and injured service members by reconditioning their physical, emotional, mental, and cognitive states through adaptive activities in order to assist their transition back into the military or their community.
The competition, hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee, is also supported by the Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, USO, the Fisher House Foundation and the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
"We are excited to welcome our service members and veterans back to Colorado Springs for the third annual competition," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun in a news release announcing the games this past December. "These Games truly exemplify the fighting spirit within each and every one of these athletes, all who have sacrificed for our great country."
Since its inception, medical treatment facilities, Warrior Transition Units and Wounded Warrior Battalions East (Camp Lejeune, N.C.) and West (Camp Pendleton, Calif.) have seen a more than 20-percent increase in sports program participation by wounded, ill and injured service members.
More than 200 wounded, ill, and injured men and women, and veterans from across the services are expected to compete in seven sports (archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track & field and wheelchair basketball).
To learn more about the Warrior Games, visit http://usparalympics.org/.