Army athletes set for track and field competition
By Christopher Fields, Warrior Care and Transition

SYDNEY - In the Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Center, where the Americans led the 2000 Olympic Games athletics, or track and field, competition, the 2018 Invictus Games Team U.S. is looking to have a similar performance. The Army will have a strong presence at the competition as 10 of the 14 Soldier athletes on Team U.S. prepare for one of the marquee events in Sydney.

"It's a blessing and an honor to represent my country again with my brothers and sisters in arms at the Invictus Games in Sydney," said retired U.S. Army Sgt. Brandi Evans who competed at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto and will be competing in track during the athletics competition. "We have all been working really hard to get to this point and it's finally time to compete and show everyone, including ourselves, what we are capable of."

The athletics competition brings out a little extra edge and intensity from the Team U.S. athletes with over half of the team competing in at least one event this year. Retired U.S. Army Sgt. David Crook, who famously threw a discus into the stands at Soldier Field during the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games, is ready to throw both shot put and discus "Down Under."

"This has been an unbelievable experience so far and I'm looking forward to getting out there and throwing [discus and shotput] against the other countries," said Crook. "I'm fortunate to be here with my family and my Team U.S. teammates and I'm going to give it all I've got and have fun."

Retired Staff Sgt., and DoD Warrior Games 800 meter record holder, Megan Palko is also thrilled to be making her Invictus Games athletics debut in an event that she's not only had success in, but also holds near and dear to heart.

"Running is really special to me. While I was in Afghanistan, running was the one time of day that I felt like I was simply Megan. I used that time to clear my thoughts and just reset," Palko said. "So being on the track is comfortable and it feels like home to me. All the hours running and training are therapeutic, but hopefully they have set me up for success here in Sydney."

Americans have had a lot of success in athletics in Sydney and Team U.S. is looking to continue it here at the 2018 Invictus Games. The athletes have all worked hard to be here and are anxious for the event to start.

U.S. Army Spc. Stephanie Johnson summed up the attitude and approach of the last night before competition starts perfectly, "There's nothing else you can do. Training is over. Now, it's time to compete."

The athletics competition will begin later today and continue tomorrow at the Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Center.