COLORADO SPRINGS, Col. - The Marine Corps has officially established a winning dynasty at the 2013 Warrior Games, taking top honors for the fourth year in a row.
The 50 Marines who comprise the team took home 93 medals. The Army placed second with 81 medals. The Marines take home 34 gold medals, 33 silver and 26 bronze medals.
"Congratulations to all of the 2013 Warrior Games competitors," said Charlie Huebner, chief of Paralympics for the United States Olympic Committee during the ceremony. "While we celebrate medals, this competition is really an example of how sport can change lives. We hope these service members and veterans don't stop here. The goal is for them to return home and get involved in sport programs in their communities."
The Warrior Games, hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee and Deloitte, are a Paralympic-style competition for wounded, ill, or injured service members and veterans from the U.S. and British armed forces. The athletes compete in cycling, shooting, track and field, archery, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball and swimming. The competitions were held aboard the Olympic Training Center and U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 11-16.
The competition kicked off to a good start for the Marine team as they established their presence at the cycling competition, scoring four medals. Sgt. Lori Yrigoyen from Huntington Beach, Calif., and currently assigned to Wounded Warrior Battalion West, took first place in the womens recumbent 10k. Staff Sgt. Ronnie Jimenez from Tempe, Ariz., and assigned to Wounded Warrior Battalion West, boosted morale for the team and its fans by being the first athlete of all services to win a gold medal. Jimenez took first in the 10k handcycle race. But after the first day, the Marines had fallen behind to the Army by five medals.
The Marines took 20 out of 24 possible medals in shooting competition last year. This year, the team scored 13 medals, edging out the Army by five. Gold medalists included Gunnery Sgt. Pedro Aquino from Hawthorne, Calif., and currently assigned to Wounded Warrior Battalion West, tied for first with veteran Cpl. Angel Gomez of Visalia, Calif., resulting in a shoot-off. Veteran Lance Cpl. Richard Stalder, from Muenster, Texas, took first in the standing competition-SH2 and veteran Master Sgt. Dionisios Nicholas of Mililani Town, Hawaii, took gold in Pistol-SH1. Staff Sgt. Phillip Shockley of Jackson, Fla., currently assigned to Wounded Warrior Battalion East, won the pistol-open competition.
Going into day three of the competition, the Marines medaled in nearly all track and field events, taking home 36 medals while the Army took 33. Cpl. Kyle Reid of Chinook, Mont., currently assigned to Wounded Warrior Battalion West, outran his Army competitor by .01 seconds in the mens 100m open. Marine veteran Derek Liu of Fullerton, Calif., won the 100m visually impaired, and veteran Sgt. Anthony McDaniel of Pascagoula, Miss., and Ivan Sears of San Antonio took first and second in the 100m wheelchair race.
The Army also took home a third consecutive gold in the much anticipated wheelchair basketball rivalry between the Army and Marines, but not before the Marine team gave them a run for their medals. The final score was 34-32. Last year, the Marine team lost the gold match in sitting volleyball to the Army. This year, the Marines quickly put out the Army by defeating them 2-0. In the final event of swimming, the Marines took a larger lead with Sgt. Kirstie Ennis of Milton, Fla., currently assigned to Wounded Warrior Battalion West, taking home gold in the womens 50m freestyle-SLA, 100m freestyle-SLA, and 50m backstroke-SLA.
Team captains Cpl. Jorge Salazar of Delano, Calif., and Wounded Warrior Battalion West and veteran Cpl. Travis Greene of Boise accepted the Chairmans Cup on behalf of the team, coaches and regiment staff. With four consecutive wins under their belt, the Wounded Warrior Regiments Warrior Games team will feel comfortable referring to the Chairmans Cup, as the Commandants Cup.