The 2014 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte officially opened on Sunday (28 September) at the US Olympic Training Centre in Colorado Springs, Colorado, highlighted by a march of the more than 200 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans who will compete in the fifth annual competition.
With 2,000 people in attendance, 2014 Paralympic ice sledge hockey gold medallists Paul Schaus and Rico Roman lit the cauldron to mark the start of the Games, which features athletes from the US Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations Command competing in seven sports through 3 October.
“It’s truly humbling to share my Paralympic medal with these athletes and see them smile,” said Roman, who is taking the season off from competitive ice sledge hockey. “I hope that Paul and I inspire these men and women to pursue their Paralympic dreams after competing at the Warrior Games. I hope this is just the beginning for them. It’s fun to be a part of this experience with all the different branches but of course, I’m rooting for Army.”
Roman, a retired Army staff sergeant, had his left leg amputated above the knee after he was wounded by an improvised explosive device while serving his third tour in Iraq in February 2007. After winning the gold at the 2012 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships and a second-place showing in 2013, Roman went on to make his Paralympic debut at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. At those Games Team USA became the first nation to successfully defend a Paralympic title in ice sledge hockey, beating Russia 1-0 in the gold medal game, aired live on NBC.
Though retired Marine Corps Corporal Schaus is entering just his third season with the No. 1-ranked US ice sledge hockey national team, he is already a force to be reckoned with for Team USA. Two-time world champion Schaus had both legs amputated above the knee after being injured by an improvised explosive device while on a rural patrol in Afghanistan in June 2009. While undergoing rehabilitation at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland, Schaus was introduced to ice sledge hockey and immediately found a passion for the sport.
Held at the US Olympic Training Centre and other facilities in Colorado Springs, including Fort Carson and the US 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 USOC and supported by the Department of Defense, AT&T, BP, Dow, Semper Fi Fund, The Fisher House Foundation, The Daniels Fund and USO. The first Warrior Games were held in 2010.
Five US Armed Forces teams (Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy/Coast Guard and Special Operations) will face off in seven sports including archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field and wheelchair basketball. The full competition schedules are available on the US Paralympics website.
Individual and team medals will be awarded as well as the Chairman’s Cup, which is given to the highest-performing service branch. The Marines claimed the honours for the past four consecutive years. Eight athletes will also vie for the title of Ultimate Champion, which is a pentathlon style event that pits warriors against each other in a variety of disciplines. Winners of the Chairman’s Cup and the Ultimate Champion trophy will be acknowledged during half-time of the 4 October Air Force/Navy football game at the US Air Force Academy.
Competitions are free and open to the public while the Closing Ceremony will take place as a part of the Air Force/Navy game day festivities.
For more on the 2014 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte, visit the event website.