News: Wounded Warriors compete in track and field invitational
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Jerine Lee, U.S. PACOM Joint Intelligence Operations Center
HONOLULU— Twenty-seven sailors and Coast Guardsmen of Team Navy participated in the track and field meet at the Iolani School Kozuki Stadium as part of the Wounded Warrior Pacific Invitational, Jan. 8.
Days prior to the event, the wounded warriors practiced and trained at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Earhart Field for the relay races, sitting and standing discus throws and sitting shot puts with coaches to help improve their performance for the meet.
Retired Master-at-Arms Seaman Steve Hancock, 24, a Pueblo, Colo. native, competed in the sitting discus and sitting shot throw events.
“This event is a great way for me and other wounded warriors to give hope and get us to become active and push ourselves to do things we thought we could never accomplish or do again,” said Hancock.
Hancock joined the Navy in 2007 and while deployed in Bahrain in 2009, he fell from a five-story building during a training session, severing his spinal cord, along with a broken leg, broken arm and a traumatic brain injury. However, his loss of feeling in both legs did not slow down his motivation and love of sports. In 2012, Hancock became actively involved with the Wounded Warrior Project taking part in sport events such as diving, hand cycling and sitting basketball.
“I played football growing up and when I was given the opportunity to participate in the warrior games, I was surprised with how much I fell in love with it,” said Hancock. “Once I began to excel in them, it pushed me to do better. I highly recommend anyone in that position to get off the recovery bed and take advantage of every opportunity because it’s about pushing forward, past your injuries.”
Hancock is now a shot put and discus champ for the U.S. Paralympics team and earned two gold medals in the 2013 Warrior Games. He is now training for the 2014 Warrior Games in the fall.
“It’s a great feeling to be around other athletes and warriors,” added Hancock. “I love being involved and although I retired from the Navy, I love the camaraderie and being surrounded by the military family.”
Team Navy is sponsored by Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) – Safe Harbor, the Navy and Coast Guard’s wounded warrior support program. The team members have upper-body/or lower-body injuries, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, visual impairments, seriously illnesses, and/or post-traumatic stress.
The WWPI is the largest joint-service competition to take place outside of the annual Warrior Games and features wounded warrior athletes from the Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Special Operations Command. The goal of the WWPI isn’t to identify the most skilled athletes, but rather to showcase the potential of wounded warriors through athletic events.