WEST POINT, NY, UNITED STATES
It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change –Charles Darwin.
The Department of Defense Warrior Games was created in 2010 as an adaptive multi-sport event for wounded, injured or ill service members and veterans.
“My first DOD Warrior Games was last year (2015), since then I have made a lot of progression,” said U.S. Special Operations Command athlete and Army Veteran Sgt. 1st Class Sualauvi “Sua” Tuimalealiifano.“This year I am participating in track and cycling for the first time along with field,” said Sua.
The Warrior Games consists of eight sports competitions including, archery, cycling, field, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and wheelchair basketball. Preparation for the games is essential for the competition itself and for athletes’ physical health.
After 13 years of serving in the Army, Sua was wounded in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom where he fractured his vertebrae. The fractures damaged his spinal cord causing him to be paralyzed from the shoulders down.
“I fought on after I fractured my spine, and then one day I woke up to get out of bed and could not,” said Sua.
Although Sua is challenged physically, he has learned to adjust to his conditions while still enjoying life and staying active.
“The games have really helped in my healing. Cycling and wheelchair racing has helped with my recovery for rehab,” said Sua.
“When cycling, my hands are taped to the handles for steering, and I use my elbows for the gears,” said Sua.
Earning gold his first time participating in the cycling event June 18, here at the Warrior Games confirms that Sua’s injuries have not stopped him from success, in fact, it has helped him to cross boundary lines set and adapt.
Becoming disabled is a constant battle both mentally and emotionally, but with the support of family, friends and fellow athletes, it has made adjusting to a new lifestyle that much easier explained Sua.
“At first it was hard accepting what happened to me, but now I embrace the change,” said Sua.
Sua and his fellow teammates not only inspire and motivate each other but also those who are able to see their growth. As Darwin said, “It is not the strongest that survives; it is the one that is most adaptable.”
||WEST POINT, NY, US
This work, 2016 DOD Warrior Games: Accepting Change & Adjusting to Life, by SPC Tynisha Daniel, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.