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Ukranian service member Oleksiy Babchynets and Ukrainian head coach Olena Ianovska participate in a track and field practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports, Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Fla., during the 2022 Department of Defense Warrior Games, on Friday Aug. 19, 2022.

Ukranian service member Oleksiy Babchynets and Ukrainian head coach Olena Ianovska participate in a track and field practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports, Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Fla., during the 2022 Department of Defense Warrior Games, on Friday Aug. 19, 2022. (Alexander Johnson/U.S. Army)

(Tribune News Service) — The Department of Defense Warrior Games event begin this weekend in Walt Disney World at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Warrior Games competitors, representing all U.S. military service branches and Special Operations Command, will demonstrate their skills at Walt Disney World Resort, including retired Central Florida veterans Andrew Blackburn and Mark Coltrain.

Events highlight physical skills and mental toughness of wounded, ill and injured active duty and veteran service members.

Twelve sports at the event will include including archery, cycling (road race and time trials), shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track, field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, indoor rowing, powerlifting, and golf as an exhibition.

The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Command will have their own team during competition.

Members of Team SOCOM practice wheelchair basketball for the 2022 Department of Defense Warrior Games, Aug. 18, 2022. at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

Members of Team SOCOM practice wheelchair basketball for the 2022 Department of Defense Warrior Games, Aug. 18, 2022. at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. (George M. Bell/U.S. Navy)

U.S. Army veteran Joshua Olson, left, meets Lt. Gen. Scott Dingle on Aug. 19, 2022, after field practice for Team Army at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, Florida, during the 2022 Department of Defense Warrior Games.

U.S. Army veteran Joshua Olson, left, meets Lt. Gen. Scott Dingle on Aug. 19, 2022, after field practice for Team Army at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, Florida, during the 2022 Department of Defense Warrior Games. (P.J. Siquig/U.S. Army)

“The Warrior Games uses the power of adaptive sports to support the recovery journey of these wounded, ill, and injured military members and their families,” said Madison Bonzo, a Department of Defense Warrior Games spokeswoman. “Each individual athlete has a unique personal recovery journey that has led them to representing their service branch and coming together with other warrior athletes at the Warrior Games. While the competition is a huge part of the Warrior Games, the heart and determination behind each of these athletes is what makes this event so meaningful.”

The athletic abilities that are displayed by the veterans is part of this unique event, but there is a much deeper meaning.

“This is an opportunity to see hundreds of athletes from across the U.S. and international countries come together to bring their dedication to adaptive sports, their commitment to recovery, and their support of each other to life,” Bonzo said. “Through adaptive sports, we’re witnessing recovery in real time for these athletes and their families. It’s inspiring to see what drives these athletes to continue pushing for their loved ones, their respective teams and their own personal recoveries.”

The Warrior Games event allows recovery for the participants, and it also allows recovery for their loved ones.

“The excitement surrounding this year’s Warrior Games competition is unlike any other. After three years of preparing, these athletes have finally come together and are ready to compete,” said David Paschal, Department of Defense Warrior Games director. “More importantly, they are here supporting each other and their families as they each use the power of adaptive sports as part of their recovery journey. We’re honored to serve as the host of the Warrior Games and provide this opportunity the nearly 300 warrior athletes and their families, friends, and loved ones.”

©2022 Orlando Sentinel.

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