2010 Closing Marks New Beginning
(May 16, 2010)
|COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 15, 2010 – The 2010 Warrior
Games may have ended yesterday, but for the wounded warriors
who competed here this week, their work is just beginning,
“You've just completed a rigorous test of your physical and
mental skills, your strength and endurance,” chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told the
athletes in a video message aired during the closing
ceremony here last night. “But now is no time to rest. I'd
like you to take what you've done here, what you've learned
here and continue to serve as role models for others
striving to find the independence they need.”
The competition formally ended last night at the U.S. Air
Force Academy in a ceremony honoring the nearly 200 wounded
warriors and disabled veterans who represented their
services in the inaugural Warrior Games.
|U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel
Hathorne accepts the Ultimate Champion award at the Warrior Games at
the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. May 14, 2010.
Hathorne scored two gold medals and a bronze at the games earning
him the top honors. DoD photo by Fred W. Baker III
The troops competed in a week-long series of Paralympic-type events at the U.S.
Olympic Training Center and academy. They were challenged as individuals and in
teams in shooting, swimming, archery, sitting volleyball, cycling, wheelchair
basketball and track and field events.
Each athlete was selected by their service to compete because of the progress
they've made using adaptive sports as a method of rehabilitation. Their
willingness to participate in the games and ability to overcome adversity can
inspire others to do the same, Mullen said.
“You've demonstrated how physical fitness can help heal the mind, body and
soul,” the admiral added. “That's a message worth sharing, and yours is a story
Mullen lauded the troops for their accomplishments, but reminded them that other
wounded warriors need their help.
That means helping wounded troops understand how to properly heal themselves and
find closure in their injuries, Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander
of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, told the
troops. Renuart, who has led the commands for three years from their
headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. , is retiring from the position
Overcoming adversity is more than simply healing physical wounds. It involves
accepting new challenges and taking risks, pushing the limits of your
disabilities, Renuart said.
“Healing is an interesting situation that a person goes through,” the general
said. “Certainly, healing is about recovering from an injury or recovering from
an illness, but healing is also about finding how much you can push yourself.
“There was a lot of healing going on this week, and a little bit of fun, too,”
Renuart recalled some of the action he watched during the week. The competitions
were hard fought and filled with all the spirit and aggressiveness officials had
hoped for in the games, he said.
Troops taunted each other throughout the week, trading insults and trash talk
about whose service is better and how bad the other team was going to get beat.
However, sportsmanship was never a concern. The games were all in good fun.
“Certainly, there were teams out there fighting for their colors, but I notice
in every circumstance, when the competition ended, there were arms around each
other,” Renuart said. “It was about how we competed as a team.”
Renuart presented the Chairman's Cup to the Marine Corps team on behalf of
Mullen. The honor is bestowed on the team with the most points at the end of the
week based of medal count. The Marines won gold in both sitting volleyball and
Retired Marine Lance Cpl. Chuck Sketch accepted the award for his team. The
Marines elected him as their captain before the competition.
Sketch lost his sight in August 1997 from a brain tumor, and then had to be
amputated from the waist down in January 1998 due to complications from the same
He competed in swimming events during the competition, and had the time of his
life, he said.
“Winning the Chairman's Cup is great,” Sketch said. “I cannot wait until next
However, Sketch admitted that there is one thing he hopes will be different by
next year's games. “More wounded warriors should take part,” he explained.
“I wish all of the wounded warriors were here,” Sketch said. “They missed out on
the best time, and I wish they were here to experience this. As more and more
people find out about it, hopefully there will be far more people next year.”
The games' top individual honor – the Ultimate Champion award -- went to Navy
Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Hathorn, a naval special warfare boat operator
who was hit by a truck driven by a local national during an overseas deployment
last year. He nudged out Army Pfc. Robert Nuss by a single point.
Hathorn won gold in the 50-meter freestyle and the 1,500-meter track. He also
won a bronze as part of the Navy's 200-meter relay swim. It was an experience he
said he won't soon forget.
“This is incredible,” Hathorn said of his award. “There are so many great
athletes in this room who've performed on a number of different levels, and to
be holding this is an honor.”
Hathorn reflected on the past year since his injury. It's almost unbelievable,
he said, to be performing in such a way after suffering several broken bones on
the left side of his body. He also had two collapsed lungs. He doesn't have the
use of his left arm and hand, either, he said.
Adaptive sports deserve all the credit for his recovery, he added.
“Rehab was very tough,” Hathorn explained. “I have to say, though, that the
Warrior Games is the culmination of my recovery. Coming this far is phenomenal.
To have these medals and to compete with the Navy and for Naval Special Warfare
Army Sgt. Cayle Foidel, a forward observer who permanently injured his leg in a
training accident in January, shares Sketch and Hathorn's enthusiasm. He won
three gold medals, all in swimming. When he returns to Fort Lewis , Wash. , next
week, he's going to do just what Mullen asked – share his positive experiences
with other wounded warriors, he said.
“After these games, I'm going back to [Fort] Lewis and try to get other people
to do this,” Foidel said. “I'm going to go there with my three gold medals, and
say, ‘If I can do it, you can do it.”
The games are a joint venture of the Defense Department, the U.S. Olympic
Committee and the USO to promote resilience and the healing power of sports.
Last night's closing ceremony featured country music recording artists John Rich
and Cowboy Troy.
Officials hope to make the games an annual event and possibly expand
participation and future venues.
Army SFC Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
More 2010 Warrior Games Photos |
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