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Athletes finally get back on track at the Warrior Games

By JOE GROMELSKI | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 28, 2015

QUANTICO, Va. — Five days after the track events at the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games were halted by heavy rain, the athletes finally returned to Marine Corps Base Quantico's Butler Stadium early Sunday.

For Marine Anthony McDaniel, among many others, it was worth the wait.

McDaniel, who got silver medals in the discus and shot put last week, capped off his fourth Warrior Games Sunday with wins in 200-, 400-, and 1500-meter races.

"I was expecting two (golds)," he said, "maybe a silver in the 1500, because it's not my strongest event. But I just had a good race. I kept a good pace, and I felt good. I just finished strong, and it worked out good for me."

Among the other winners was Army Spc. Anthony Atemon, who lost his sight to an auto-immune disease in 2013. With Army Capt. Amanda Miller serving as his guide, Atemon took first place in his heat of the 1500-meter event.

You have to "give complete trust to the person who's guiding you," he said. "It's the same way with on a bicycle, because I cycle also. You have to completely trust that other person to take care of your life."

But while the athletes savored their performances, the happiest person in the stadium might have been Maj. Gen. Juan G. Ayala, the commander of Task Force Warrior Games.

"Everybody who deserves a medal has gotten a medal," Ayala said, "but I think more important than that is our focus on the athletes, their caregivers and families. They're really not going to remember a year from now who won the (Chairman's) Cup or these kinds of things. They're going to remember each other, they're going to remember the friends they made, and they're going to remember the experience here as part of their holistic recovery and re-integration back into their communities or back into the service."

As for the games themselves, Ayala said he "knew that the level of competition was going to be fierce, (but) it was a little surprising to me how fierce it was. But at the end of the day ... warriors are warriors."

He was also impressed by "the level of camaraderie. I don't care where you're at, any time there's a race, whether it's in the pool, out here, the last-place person comes in, everybody stands up and cheers. I think that's the reason we have these games, the camaraderie. If you look at them now, they're all making friends, talking to each other. I think that's a great thing. They're never going to forget this experience.

"One of the things we wanted to focus on is that it was an unforgettable experience."

Army captured the Chairman's Cup, finishing with 141 points. The Marine Corps was second with 96, followed by the Air Force (65), British Armed Forces (62), SOCOM (34) and the Navy/Coast Guard (30). Army led the way in gold medals with 69, while the Marines collected 47 and the British 42.

gromelski.joe@stripes.com

Medal totals

Team Gold Silver Bronze Total CCP*
Army 69 52 41 162 141
Marine Corps 47 37 21 105 96
Air Force 23 39 25 87 65
British Armed Forces 42 20 23 85 62
SOCOM 13 17 15 45 34
Navy/Coast Guard 12 12 19 43 30

 
*-Chairman's Cup Points.
These reflect a lower number than the Total Medal Count due to the -1 Rule. Each medal is worth 1 point. In the event that three or fewer athletes compete in one event, all athletes who finish will medal; however, their medal will not count for points towards the Chairman's Cup.

 

 

Track competition at the Warrior Games, June 28, 2015 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
JOE GROMELSKI/STARS AND STRIPES

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