The Warrior Games kicked off Tuesday with five cycling events here at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Both the Army and Marine teams finished with six medals. Army with two gold, one silver and three bronze, and the Marines with two gold, three silver and one bronze.
But the day was clearly not about medals. It was about teamwork and the warrior spirit, prominently demonstrated by the sea services after a couple of their athletes encountered mechanical woes.
After the first run of the course, Retired Navy Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jim Castaneda had his left tire blow out on his recumbent bicycle.
With miles left to go, Castaneda kept on pedaling and pushed to the finish line, with his coach and teammates cheering him on. He could have stopped when the tire blew, but says he wanted to show his son, “We don’t quit.”
For his determination to succeed, Castaneda was selected as “Athlete of the Day” by the U.S. Paralympics Committee and is profiled on their website.
Earlier, a cable snapped on another athlete’s bike, and the Navy/Coast Guard team couldn’t fix it.
“We didn’t have the parts, we didn’t have a cable, and we didn’t have a mechanic there,” said Master Chief Will Wilson, the team’s cycling coach. “So we rolled down to the Marine Corps cadre and without hesitation they jumped on it, got the parts, fixed the bike and got the kid in the race.”
“That says it all,” said Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Michael Barrett to the Commandant of the Marine Corps after hearing what happened. “We’re doing it right.”
“Those [medals] you see hanging from the table over there, that’s not Warrior Games,” said Wilson. “What just happened down there, fixing that bike—that’s Warrior Games.”
- Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer