COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (NNS) -- The 39 seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors who competed on Team Navy won 28 medals - including 12 gold medals - at the fifth annual Warrior Games Sept. 28 - Oct. 4 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
"The premise of the Warrior Games is that, for these athletes, their best days are still ahead of them," said the Honorable Juan M. Garcia, III, assistant secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs), who attended part of the Warrior Games. "Once you are part of the Navy and Marine Corps family, it doesn't expire - that's for the rest of your life."
Among the highlights of this year's Warrior Games was Team Navy's gold-medal win against the Marines in sitting volleyball Oct. 2. After two tight sets, Team Navy stormed ahead in the third set to sink the Marines 2-1 (26-24, 20-25, 15-6). It was the team's first medal in sitting volleyball since the inception of the Warrior Games.
"I'm still on cloud nine," said Team Navy sitting volleyball coach Rik Mullane at the conclusion of the match. "I am just so happy for these guys and girls. They worked so hard."
Team Navy also excelled in the track and field competition Oct. 2 at Fountain Fort Carson High School's Garry Berry field, winning seven gold, six silver and two bronze medals. During the final event of the day, four members of Team Navy clinched gold after a stunning performance in the men's 4 x 100-meter relay. The wounded warrior athletes came from behind to complete the race in just 48.15 seconds.
"One thing I absolutely love about the Warrior Games is it's not a pity party," said retired Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Redmond Ramos, who won several medals in track. "I like to say: It's not a bunch of disabled people who are competing, it's a bunch of people competing who are disabled. And I think that makes a huge difference. This is a tough competition and we're all here to win."
"It's just a great experience to be here with people who have been hurt, but they're not letting it stop them," he added.
In shooting competitions Oct. 3 at the Olympic Training Center, Team Navy scored three gold medals and one silver medal. Navy Airman Sadie Strong became only the second female ever to win gold in a Warrior Games shooting event, finishing at the top in the air rifle prone (open) finals. Retired Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class John Kremer repeated last year's gold medal win in the air rifle prone (SH1) competition, and retired Navy Lt. j.g. Laura Root also won gold for a second consecutive year, besting her competition in the air rifle standing (open) category.
"I'm just so glad I got to come to the Warrior Games again, and to be able to compete in a sport I love," said Root.
The Navy wheelchair basketball team also received a bronze medal on Oct. 3 after fiercely battling and ultimately falling to the Army the previous day.
Thirty-nine wounded warrior athletes competed on behalf of Team Navy this year. The Warrior Games brought together approximately 200 service members with upper-body, lower-body, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, visual impairments, serious illnesses and post-traumatic stress who participated in seven sports.
Team Navy is sponsored by Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) - Safe Harbor, the Navy and Coast Guard's wounded warrior support program.
To learn more about NWW, the Warrior Games and adaptive athletics, visit http://safeharbor.navylive.dodlive.mil; call 855-NAVY WWP (628-9997) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow NWW on Facebook (www.facebook.com/navysafeharbor) and Twitter (@navysafeharbor) for the latest news about Team Navy.