Victory, sweet Vickery

By Scottie Bibb | Sept. 29, 2014, 11 p.m. (ET)

Adam Vickery
Staff Sgt. Adam Vickery celebrates his victory in the men's recumbent cycling race at the 2014 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – This may be only his first appearance at the Warrior Games presented by Deloitte, but Marine Staff Sergeant Adam Vickery is certainly making his presence known.

Competing Monday in the 20-kilometer recumbent bicycle event, Vickery handily took home a gold medal, finishing with a nearly 30-second gap between himself second-place finisher Specialist Jason Blair, who was riding for the U.S. Army.

Vickery’s teammate, retired Marine Lance Corporal Levi Marshall, finished an impressive third, and, as Marshall fist-bumped Vickery in celebration of their two podium spots, the camaraderie between the two was clear.

“I’m really happy with my finish here,” Marshall said, “but I’m even happier to see a fellow Marine who is at his first Warrior Games win a gold medal.”

Held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and other facilities in Colorado Springs, Colorado, including Fort Carson and the United States Air Force Academy, the 2014 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte is a competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans hosted by the United States Olympic Committee and supported by the Department of Defense, AT&T, BP, Dow, Semper Fi Fund, The Fisher House Foundation, The Daniels Fund and USO.

Approximately 200 athletes from the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations will compete in seven sports through Oct. 3.

Vickery is a native of Rupert, Idaho, and only took up the recumbent bike this past February.

“I wanted to try the upright bike, but I still have a broken back, so sitting on the upright was too hard,” Vickery said. “The recumbent bike made a lot more sense for me.”

Vickery joined the Marines nearly 20 years ago at the age of 19. Following assignments to numerous locations throughout the world including Haiti and Afghanistan, he was serving his third tour in Iraq when the vehicle he was traveling in was hit by an explosion.

The vehicle landed on top of Vickery who, to date, has completed 19 surgeries to repair damage to “pretty much every joint in my body.”

He credits retired Naval Lieutenant Commander Scott King for many of his successful surgeries, as well as helping him avoid a limb amputation.

“God bless that man,” Vickery said. “I owe him my life.”

As he smiles and flexes his left bicep, Vickery said, “They were going to amputate my left arm, but he was able to save it.

“It’s full of nuts and bolts, but it works.”

He said that King was able to “piece him back together” and for that, he will be forever grateful.

“If it wasn’t for him,” Vickery said, “I wouldn’t be here competing today.  I wouldn’t even be standing here today.”

Vickery credits the Warrior Games, as well as his fellow service members, for giving him both the focus and motivation to walk the difficult path of recovery following his many surgeries.

“Wounded Warriors has been a miracle and a blessing for me,” Vickery said. “I’ve had such strong support from my prior command, and those that are here have stopped me and wished me good luck.”

He also believes that competitive athletics are a phenomenal tool for healing.

“When we turn in ourselves, it’s really hard to see that there’s help around us,” Vickery continued. “Sports have enabled me to come back and help junior Marines such as Levi — and he helps me out in a positive way too.

“I’m there for him and he’s there for me.”

In addition to the recumbent bicycle, Vickery will also be competing in both the wheelchair basketball and swimming events during the Warrior Games.

The first-time competitor has his sights set high.

“I’m hoping to pull in another few medals for the team,” he said.

Although he’s thrilled to be competing at this year’s Warrior Games, Vickery said his main focus right now is fatherhood.

“My main concern,” he said, “is making sure that I’m being a really good father.”

Following his extensive surgeries and rehabilitation, Vickery said that he’s “thrilled to be back with my family again.”

Dad to 10-year-old Jacob (“JR”), 8-year-old Samantha and 5-year-old Addison is a job that Vickery takes very seriously.

And, he said, it’s a job with some awesome rewards.

“They’re really amazing,” Vickery said. “Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, Addison will come up for no reason and jump on me and hug me.

“She’ll just wrap her arms around me and it changes my entire attitude and makes everything better.”

If Vickery has his way, he’ll return home from his first-ever Warrior Games with a gold medal for each of them.

For more on the 2014 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte, visit teamusa.org/WarriorGames/.

Scottie Bibb is a writer from Colorado. She is a freelance contributor for USParalympics.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.