Colorado Springs, May 9——–The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), the Department of Defense, presenting sponsor Deloitte, and the United Service Organizations (USO) are bringing the Warrior Games again to Colorado Springs next Monday. The competition, which is a joint effort between the USOC and the Department of Defense, will take place May 16-21, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, Medal of Honor recipient, has been selected as the torchbearer for the Games. Giunta is the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, the United States’ highest military decoration of valor. A staff sergeant, Giunta was cited for having saved the lives of members of his squad on Oct. 25, 2007 while deployed in Afghanistan. He exposed himself to enemy fire in order to pull a soldier back to cover when their platoon came under attack. For his bravery, he was awarded the medal from President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House on Nov. 16, 2010.
“In May of 2010, 187 men and women represented American sacrifice and duty at the inaugural Warrior Games in Colorado Springs,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “Those athletes stood as a testament to the true Olympic spirit and the essence of sport, and I look forward to welcoming this magnificent event back to our hometown again next week.”
Sports participation rates at Warrior Transition Units, Wounded Warrior Battalions/Detachments and other Wounded Warrior programs throughout the U.S. have increased from 31% to 54% over the past two years.
The competition helps elevate abilities through athletic competition for wounded, ill, and injured service members by providing a focal event to empower the incorporation of athletics into military wounded warrior programs. The Warrior Games serve as an introduction to Paralympic sports for injured service members by inspiring recovery, physical fitness, and promoting new opportunities for growth and achievement.
“Watching these warriors demonstrate their incredible athletic abilities is an example to our nation of their resilience and their ability to continue to succeed,” said Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “We are very proud of every single one of them.”
More than 200 wounded, ill, and injured servicemen and women are expected to compete in seven sports in Colorado Springs next week. All eligible athletes will be drawn proportionately from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard based on their disability.
“It was great to represent the Army at the 2010 Warrior Games,” said Justin Widhalm (Army), Warrior Games silver medalist in shooting. “To compete alongside my fellow comrades at the U.S. Olympic Training Center was an awe-inspiring experience.”
“The Warrior Games are a great tool to help facilitate recovery and motivation,” Marc Esposito (Air Force), Warrior Games triple medalist. “These Games are a new battlefield where no one is getting hurt and we come back stronger. You have to be motivated to get better because medicine can only help so much.”
“The Warrior Games are about what these wounded warriors can accomplish. The word ‘can’t’ doesn’t exist at the Games,” said Sloan Gibson, president of the USO. “The USO is proud to be a part of this event again next year.”
The inaugural Warrior Games took place last summer in Colorado Springs and utilized the U.S. Olympic Training Center grounds, the Air Force Academy and the U.S. Army’s Fort Carson. One hundred and eighty seven servicemen and women from all five service branches competed.
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