With 'Oomph' Warrior Games cyclists overcome

By Anna EisenbergOctober 1, 2014

With 'Some Oomph,' Warrior Games Cyclists Overcome as a Team
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 29, 2014) -- The cyclists, wind-blown and lashed from rain, rounded the curve and pushed through the final straightaway to cross the finish line. The fans, undeterred by the sudden downpour, screamed and clapped as the bikes whipped by. A dramatic but fitting display for the seventh and last cycling event in the 2014 Warrior Games, drenching but never dissuading the athletes who have already prevailed over so much.

"There is so much these Soldiers have overcome, and they overcome it as a team," said Simon Bennett, the Army's head coach for cycling. Though this is his first Warrior Games event, the Australian transplant to South Carolina owns a coaching and consulting business with his wife and knew many of the athletes through race camps and U.S. Paralympic training camps. "The camaraderie is amazing; everyone is here to support each other," Bennett added.

As his cyclists warmed up for their events, Bennett's chant remained the same: "It's all about overcoming whatever situation you're in." Spc. Jason Blair, Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, an Army athlete competing in men's recumbent cycling, took these words to heart. Despite grounding his bike mid-race, Blair managed to right himself and finish strong with a silver-medal win.

"Get back on your bike and try to catch the people that passed me," is what Blair told himself. "I put into practice the CSF2 prep. The skills they taught us came in handy," he added, crediting the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness trainers who helped prepare him for the race.

Spc. Amanda Lyle, an Army athlete from the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, competing in women's recumbent cycling, experienced her share of challenges as well. It took over a year for her doctors to allow her on a bike. "When they finally let me on, I just took off," she recalled.

Lyle, who required her inhaler twice during the race, felt proud of her work at Warrior Games. "A year ago I didn't think I would ever walk again. The fact that I'm here and able to compete, I don't care what place I come in," she said.

Of overcoming adversity, Lyle said "it's going to take a little bit of strength and a little bit of trying. Some 'oomph.' It doesn't matter if it's a tip-toe or a leap. Find something you like and focus on it."

(Army's Jorge Avalos also took a gold in the men's 30-k C5 competition; Katie Kuiper took gold and Samantha Goldenstein silver in th e Women's 20-k open race; and Ivan Johnson took silver in the Men's Tandem IV 30-k competition.)