COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Sweating fiercely and gasping for air, Staff Sgt. Ronnie Jimenez, with Wounded Warrior Battalion West, cycled across the finish line today, taking the first gold medal of the 2013 Warrior Games.
The 35-year-old Marine from Tempe, Ariz., who competed in the 10k hand-cycle race, said he felt the support from his fellow Marines, which motivated him to go as fast as he could. He started the Warrior Games off with a big win for the Corps.
"With those guys motivating me and the families cheering me on — made me feel unbeatable," said Jimenez.
The Warrior Games is a Paralympic-style competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. The team of 50 Marines, competing for their fourth consecutive cup, will compete in several events during the Games including wheelchair basketball, archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball and track and field. They will defend their championship against the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Special Operations Command and the British Armed Forces.
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos was at the cycling event aboard the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and congratulated Jimenez as he crossed the finish line.
"It has set the tone for the Warrior Games, and the fact that the first event was won by a Marine sets the standard for the other Marines to follow," said Amos. "All these athletes are heroes who have been wounded for their country and I'm proud to be able to meet all of these fine young men and women."
The Marines continued their winning streak as three more athletes medaled in their respective events.
Sgt. Lorie Yriguyen, 30, from Grafton, Wis., currently with WWBn.-West won a gold medal in the women’s 10k recumbent race. Sgt. Brian McPherson, 30, from Theodore, Ala., currently with WWBn.-West took home a gold medal in the open bracket upright race. Sgt. Jorge Toledo, 27, from Miami, Fla., and currently assigned to WWBn.-West won a bronze medal in the 30k permanent disability upright race.
"It feels great to start the Warrior Games on the right foot winning for the Marines," said Jimenez. "After winning the Chairman's Cup the past three times, we are ready to win it again."
The 2013 Warrior Games will run May 11-16 aboard the United States Olympic Center and Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. More than 260 service members and veterans will compete for the Commanders Cup.