News: Marines prepare to defend title at 2011 Warrior Games
Story by Sgt. Heidi Agostini
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Wounded Warrior Regiment’s All-Marine team returns to the field of competition to defend a first-place title at the Warrior Games May 16-21 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Boasting a roster that features 49 athletes, the team, comprised of 27 active duty and 22 Marine veterans, will compete at the 2011 Warrior Games, a U.S. Olympic Committee and Department of Defense partnered, Paralympic-style competition consisting of wounded, ill or injured active or veteran service members.
More than 200 service members from all branches of the military are expected to compete in seven sports including cycling, swimming, track and field, archery, volleyball and shooting.
The All-Marine team took home the Chairman’s Cup last year, along with 19 gold, 24 silver and 16 bronze medals.
Cpl. Michael Pride, an infantryman who is recuperating at the Wounded Warrior Battalion East, Naval Medical Center San Diego detachment, returns to the games this year as an assistant coach for the track team. Pride, from Kansas City, Mo., took home a silver and bronze medal in the 2010 games.
“Last year everyone was excited because we knew we were part of the first-ever Warrior Games,” Pride said.
Pride now will tackle the transition from athlete to coach, as he prepares new athletes to further cement the Marine legacy at the Games.
“This year I think the team will be fine,” Pride said. “There are a lot of new faces, but they already know what to expect. Other teams are gunning for us, so that’s going to make our team step up.”
New to the track team is Cpl. Manuel Jimenez, from New Britain, Conn. He arrived in Colorado from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he is recovering. Jimenez lost his left arm in a blast in Marjah, Afghanistan, in August 2010. After recuperating, the New Britain High School graduate became active by competing in various marathons including the Disneyland Half Marathon. He will be participating in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 800-meter dash during the Games.
“The most difficult thing for me out of all this is compensating on the left side during my runs,” Jimenez said. “When you run, if you move your arms fast then your legs go fast. So I had to pull my arms harder and it was causing my hip to dislocate, but now I’m doing a lot better.”
The athletes are receiving mentoring and coaching from top athletes including Olympic gold medalist swimmer Shelia Taormina, who is in her first year of training the Marines.
“The swim team’s progression has been amazing, and its all due to their hard work and great attitude,” Taormina said. “They’ve gained strength, endurance and their technique is phenomenal. I’m so proud of them. The progression has been more than I actually expected in such a short time.”
The WWR provides and facilitates non-medical care to combat and non-combat wounded, ill, and injured Marines, and sailors attached to or in direct support of Marine units, and their family members in order to assist them as they return to duty or transition to civilian life.
The regimental headquarters, located in Quantico, Va., coordinates the operations of two Wounded Warrior Battalions, located at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Camp Lejeune, N.C.
The WWR operates the Warrior Athlete Reconditioning Program, which requires Marines to participate in physical activity according to individual capabilities and goals. Marines who desire and are prepared to compete at an elite level have an opportunity to try out and participate in the Warrior Games.