COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – After all they had been through to get here, a little rain, lightning and thunder rolling over the U.S. Air Force Academy was not going to stop the athletes from competing in the track & field events of the Warrior Games presented by Deloitte.
Marines won overall with 36 medals (13 gold, 11 silver and 12 bronze). The other five participating services went home victorious as well.
Army finished closely behind with 33 medals (13 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze). One of the gold medals was awarded to the team for its time of 49.62 in the men’s 400-meter relay.
“We all went out and did what we were supposed to do and we won,” said Army Cadet Quintarious Almon (Irondale, Ala.), who ran the first leg of the race.
The events ran smoothly until everyone was forced to evacuate the track and seek shelter from the lightning. Some thought the meet would be called to an end, but athletes and spectators were still waiting for the 4x100, one of the most anticipated races of the meet.
“We’ve been wanting to do this since we’ve been here, so when they cancelled, it was kind of a heartbreaker.”
However, within an hour and a half, the threatening weather passed and events resumed. Marines went on to win silver in the relay and Navy won bronze.
Marines Sgt. Anthony McDaniel leads in the men's 100-meter wheelchair race.
Marines, who won the Chairman’s Cup award since the inaugural Warrior Games in 2010, dominated the sprints this year. Returning medalist, Sgt. Anthony McDaniel (Chula Vista, Calif.) won gold medals in the men’s 100-meter, 200-meter, and 1500-meter wheelchair races.
First-time participant, Marines Capt. Derek Liu (Mountain View, Calif.), also ended the day decked out in medals. In the visually impaired category, he won the 100, 200 and 1500 and bronze in discus.
He said that the event he was most excited about was the 1500.
“I had never run it before,” Liu said. He finished with a time of 6:00:42, just seconds ahead of Army Capt. Ivan Castro of Special Operations.
Liu said that those who competed in his events and others were very talented.
The men’s 200 below the knee for single and double amputees was a close race. First place went to Kushal Limbu of the British Armed Forces with a time of 22:56. Navy Lt. Tim Kraynack (Bremerton, Wash.) placed second with a time of 25:69 and Army Sgt. Ryan McIntosh (San Antonio, Texas) finished in 26:10 to secure third place.
Those who returned to the Warrior Games said that this year has been much more competitive than previous years.
Army Staff Sgt. Chanda Gaeth (Kempner, Texas) returned for the second consecutive year to compete in the wheelchair races.
“It was pretty tough,” Gaeth said. “Especially considering that last year we didn’t have any females.”
This year, she took the silver medal in the 100, 200 and 1500 races, while teammate, Spc. Elizabeth Wasil (Colorado Springs, Colo.), won gold in all three.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Lara Ishekawa (Live Oak, Texas) finished first in the women’s 100 open and British Armed forces Mickaela Richards took first place in the 200 open.
There to cheer on his teammates was la Grahm Brown with Royal Navy o the British Armed Forces. He will be competing in the swimming events, but says that the Warrior Games is more than just competitions. ”It’s about meeting new teams,” Brown said.
He explained that the Warrior Games and adaptive sports benefit service men and women in a multitude of ways.
“It’s good to get back into sports again. We are here to show everyone else that we can still do it and that we can go out there, be competitive and still be a part of a team. ”
Murrillia Simpson of the British Armed Forces was among them. She threw a distance of 14.12 to win silver in women’s discus for the wheelchair and other combined category, while teammate Erica Vey won gold with a distance of 14.72.
“It really is a privilege to be able to come here,” Simpson said. It was her first time participating and says that it is inspiring to be able to experience the talent and commitment of fellow service men and women.
Simpson and the other athletes hope to return to the Warrior Games next year.
Navy placed third with 14 medals. The British Armed Forces earned 12 medals, after being shutout of the cycling and shooting medals, and the Air Force and Special Operations Command tied with 11.
Through Day 3 of competition, the Marines lead the overall medal count with 53 (20 gold, 16 silver and 17 bronze) while Army is a close second with 50 (16 gold, 17 silver and 17 bronze). Navy has 17 medals while Air Force and Special Operations have 15.
For more from the 2013 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte, visit teamusa.org/warriorgames/.