By Sgt. 1st Class Wilson A. Rivera, 45th Military History DetachmentMay 1, 2012
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- (May 1, 2012) After months of training and competing to make the team, athletes from all American armed forces branches and British armed forces joined in the opening ceremonies held April 30 at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Two-hundred athletes are participating in the Third Annual Warrior Games, where wounded servicemembers compete in Paralympics sports among other comrades.
"The Paralympics movement is not a movement about disabilities, it's not a movement about activity, it's a movement about sport, and movement about excellence and the very best you can be," said Scott Blackmun, chief executive officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The U.S. Olympic Committee is one of four national committees in the world that oversees Paralympics sports. Twenty percent of the U.S. Paralympics team traveling to London this summer will be returning service men and women, added Blackmun.
Documenting combat operations while in Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. John Masters, a combat documentation video specialist, assigned to the 982nd Combat Camera Company (Airborne) in East Point, Ga., was injured in 2010 during his sixth combat deployment and has been at Walter Reed Army Medical Center ever since. Masters first joined Active duty in 2001 as a forward observer assigned to the 1st Ranger Battalion, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., where he had a break in service to continue with school and reenter the Army Reserve.
This is the first year Masters is able to compete after consistent rehabilitation and reconstructive surgeries to his right hand which is partially amputated.
"It's a rigorous selection process," said Masters. "The team is not just composed of Active duty, but also veterans, where the only prerequisite that you've been injured and have been considered a wounded warrior."
In 2011 he started to partake in different clinics provided for wounded warriors and tried out for cycling, swimming, shooting, and sprinting in track and field. He only made the Army team for cycling and shooting.
"We salute you for your services, as we move forward, the significance of these warrior games , is an opportunity for each one of us to look deep inside of ourselves , to look to the things that make us great and unify us as a nation ," said John Register, U.S. Olympic Committee associate director and an Army veteran and Paralympian.
As the games continue through the week, Masters and other athletes plan to cheer teammates on with great support. Masters finished third in the Mens 30 kilometer cycling event with a physical disability.
"My Girlfriend came up, and I'm going to have some of my family members show up to my next shooting event," said Masters. "It's just awesome to have family and other teammates to cheer you on. I what we need, that excitement and commotion share that camaraderie and cheer other people on you know there here to support you it's really a neat atmosphere."
The First lady, Michelle Obama encouraged athletes to continue their hard work and congratulated their families for such encouragement.
"Military families, hear stories of service and sacrifice, up close, no matter how seriously injured, no matter what obstacles you face you just keep moving forward. You just keep pushing yourself to succeed in ways that just mystifies and leaves us in awe."