The US Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games officially started on Friday (19th June) with an opening ceremony at Virginia’s architecturally memorable National Museum of the Marine Corps.
The 2015 Warrior Games, hosted this year for the first time by the US Marine Corps within their base in Quantico, will see athletes from the British Armed Forces Team, supported by Help for Heroes, compete in eight adaptive sports – Archery, Cycling, Sitting Volleyball, Shooting, Swimming, Track and Field, and Wheelchair Basketball - alongside US teams from the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
The event is about giving our wounded, injured and sick serving and veteran forces personnel the chance to take part in sport, alongside their peers, to show themselves, and the rest of the world, that they can. This is about ability, not disability. Every athlete at the Warrior Games has been empowered to compete. But it’s about so much more than competition.
Paralympic medallist, forces veteran and amputee John Register, who addressed the athletes earlier in the week, summarised: “Sport is about moving you forward so you can have a future. Inspiration leads to motivation, motivation leads to activation and results. Results inspire us to help someone else.”
British Armed Forces team captain and Army veteran Rob Cromey-Hawke, the flag bearer, led the 39-strong team into the opening ceremony following the arrival of the US teams.
Susan Warner, a veteran Royal Navy Senior Nursing Officer, was awarded the honour of bearing the torch for the British team.
During the ceremony, athletes and guests were addressed by high ranking representatives of the military.
In his speech, Major General Richard Cripwell, Britain’s defence attaché in the US, said: “The ties and experiences that bind us together are far more important today than they have ever been. I wish you all the best of luck but I want to make it clear that the British team have not come to make up the numbers!”
British athlete Mary Wilson, a veteran Staff Sergeant in the Army, said of the opening ceremony: “It was emotional and inspiring. The American crowd gave us such a warm, rousing welcome as we walked into the arena that I could feel goosebumps all over my skin. The Games setting is fantastic and all areas for all sports are built to accommodate every type of physical disability. Nothing is too much bother for our American hosts and we are being treated like royalty.”
Mary echoed the final words offered by President Obama in his video message to the competitors aired during the ceremony: “Let the Games begin!”