ARLINGTON, VA — It's been 14 years since Spc. James McFadden got second place in wrestling in the state of Nevada at the age of 17. It was an impressive accomplishment, but for a competitor like McFadden, he wants gold — and he hopes to get it at Warrior Games this September in Orlando representing Team Army.
"Being picked for Warrior Games felt really good," said McFadden, who hails from the Fort Carson Soldier Recovery Unit in Colorado. "Now I'll be able to show off my talents again after getting hurt. My big motivation is never getting silver again."
McFadden was one of 45 Army athletes who were selected to compete against the other services at Warrior Games.
He joined the Army in January 2019 at 28 years of age and was stationed in South Korea, where he suffered an injury to his leg during a Taekwondo competition. Since then, the Fort Carson SRU has been helping him with his recovery, and the Warrior Games are giving him a second chance to participate in a physical competition.
He'll be participating in the air rifle competition as well as three events in swimming: the 50-meter freestyle, 50-meter backstroke, and 100-meter freestyle.
McFadden has amped up his training routine in preparation for the Games.
"It's just more extensive," he said. "I'm doing more workouts — more physical workouts to get my leg strong and get my arm strong."
There are some quirks to his routine. While training for air rifle, he puts on headphones and streams classical music to help him focus. He won't be able to do that during the Games themselves, but it helps with his training, he said.
"It helps me get meditative and into that kind of mode of, 'I'm shooting leave me alone,'" he said with a laugh.
He anticipates having his parents there to watch him compete, which will be a big motivator for him at the Games. He hopes to do everyone proud.
"I'll be representing not only Fort Carson but my family and Colorado," he said.
Regardless of what happens, simply getting chosen for Warrior Games is a source of pride for McFadden.
"That sense of, 'oh, you made it, one out of 45,' was really a big accomplishment," he said. "It's the biggest accomplishment of my adult life."