News: Wounded warriors go for the gold
Story by Benny Ontiveros
WEST POINT, N.Y. – U.S. Army athletes came out strong and took 18 gold, 12 silver, and eight bronze medals at the men’s and women’s 2014 U.S. Army Warrior Trials track event at the Unites States Military Academy Preparatory School track in West Point.
The competitive wounded warriors, who are either wounded, ill, or injured, competed in events ranging from the 100 meter sprint to the 1,500 meter relay and wheelchair race.
“Today’s event for me was to come out and see who the competition was and how to better myself.” said, Spc. Almon Quintarious, U.S. Army Reservist from Anniston, Alabama.
Quintarious sustained a head injury when he was involved in a vehicle accident.
“All I remember was waking up in the hospital, since then it has been an uphill battle,” he said.
His injury affects his ability to play football, but by involving himself in adaptive sports such as track, “it gives me a way to use my talents on the track and seeing other athletes with severe injuries competing, gives me the motivation I need to overcome my injury,” he said.
Through hard work and determination, Quintarious takes home a silver medal in the 100 meter open men’s sprint race and a bronze medal in the 200 meter sprint open’s men’s race today.
Taking his title and the gold was Spc. James Taylor, Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
“It felt good to beat Quintarious because he held the record for the 100 meter sprint race, but I do look forward to running against him again in the future,” said Taylor.
Taking home three gold medals in the 100 meter, 200 meter, and 1,500 meter sprint wheelchair men’s event race was Army veteran Matt Spang, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“This was my first time competing in wheelchair racing, and I only trained for five days, which amazes me.” said Spang.
Army veteran Anne Oravec, Denver, takes home two gold medals in the women’s open 100 meter and 200 meter sprint race while 1st Lt. Kelly Elminger, WTU, Fort Sam Houston, takes two gold medals in the 100 meter and 200 meter sprint women’s wheelchair race.
Today’s track event included active duty and retired service members that have serious illnesses, traumatic brain injuries, visual impairment, upper and lower body injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Through adaptive reconditioning, the wounded warriors can focus on the Army’s holistic approach to recovery and transition out of military service.
“My approach to recovery begins with me staying motivated. I’m wounded, not dead,” said Taylor.
Adaptive reconditioning and adaptive athletics “improves self-esteem and fosters self-improvements,” said Army veteran Michael Kacer, of Yonkers.
Kacer originally joined the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and remained in the military until his retirement in 2010.
While deployed to Afghanistan, Kacer lost his left arm to a rocket-propelled grenade in battle. Today’s event in the open men’s 100 meter sprint race for upper body amputees earned Kacer a gold medal.
These wounded warriors are no strangers to the Army’s Warrior Trials. All men have competed for more than two years in these events and use it as a stepping stone to qualify for a spot in the 2014 Warrior Games being held in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“I will use adaptive sports to break my own personal running record, and being here at the Warrior Trials motivates me to push myself even further,” said Quintarious.
The Army Warrior Trials represents the resilience of wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans from all branches of the military. The Army encourages all wounded warriors to recondition and focus on the ability to recover and focus on self-improvement through adaptive sports and reconditioning.
Date Posted:06.19.2014 20:14
Location:WEST POINT, NY, US
Hometown:ANNISTON, AL, US
Hometown:COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, US
Hometown:DENVER, CO, US
Hometown:YONKERS, NY, US