Five U.S. military athletes, including three from the Army World Class Athlete Program, combined to win 10 gold and two silver medals Sept. 14-15 at the Conseil International du Sport Militaire’s 2013 World Para-Track and Field Championships.
Marine Corps Cpl. Ivan Sears of Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, led Team USA by winning gold medals in the men’s wheelchair 100 meters (17.25 seconds), 200 meters (30.99), 1500 meters (4 minutes, 29.03 seconds) and sitting shot put (6.60 meters).
Sears lost his legs to an improvised explosive device while deployed in Afghanistan. While recovering at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, he learned to use prosthetics and turned to sports for self-inspiration.
Spc. Elizabeth Wasil, a swimmer in the U.S. Army World Class Para-Athlete Program stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., struck gold on the track in the women’s wheelchair 100 (25.58), 200 (48.48) and 1500 (7:28.47).
Wasil bounced back from triple surgery for bilateral hip injuries sustained in Iraq by plunging into a pool and learning to swim competitively at Fort Sam Houston. She quickly stroked her way into the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, which provides Soldiers an opportunity to train full-time for Olympic sports.
In Warendorf, Wasil competed in wheelchair racing alongside the men to capture the women’s division as the third-place overall finisher in each of her events.
Sgt. Robert Brown, a runner in the U.S. Army World Class Para-Athlete Program stationed at Chula Vista, Calif., struck gold in the men’s below knee amputee 100 (12.39) and 200 (25.75).
A former hurdler at Virginia Military Institute, Brown became a below-the-knee amputee in 2006 after losing his right leg during a battle in Ramadi, Iraq. Told by doctors that he would never run again, Brown walked with a cane for two years before taking up kayaking. Eventually, he made it back to the track on a prosthetic leg.
Sgt. Ryan McIntosh, a runner from Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston who is scheduled to report Nov. 1 to WCAP, won silver medals in the men’s below knee amputee 100 (12.74) and 200 (26.64).
McIntosh stepped on a pressure-plate land mine while performing an orchard-clearing mission in the Arghandab River valley of Afghanistan in December 2010, resulting in below-the-knee amputation of his right leg.
Staff Sgt. Kenneth Perio of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., won the men’s upper body impairment standing shot put with a toss of 12 meters.
The 2013 CISM Open Integrative Track and Field Championships combined the CISM Open European Military Championships with the CISM World Para-Track and Field Military Championships at the German Sports School.
“Joint competitions will be held for Soldiers with and without disabilities, making the event a kind of military Paralympics integrated into the European championships,” Warendorf Mayor Jochen Walter said in welcoming 188 military athletes from 16 nations.
Brazilian Navy Capt. Luiz Serrano, director of the CISM Para-Sport Project, was the official CISM representative for the championships.
“CISM now has a unique and exciting opportunity to expand its role in developing the military athletes of its 133 member nations,” Serrano said. “Not only providing a venue of competition for our able-bodied athletes, but in implementing a project for our injured warriors.”
Joined by seven other nations and 34 wounded warriors, Team USA’s performance was a testament to the development of sport within the Wounded Warrior programs that incorporate sport during the recovery phase.
CISM officials plan to expand by integrating Para events into more of their sports championships, along with the Military World Games, which serve as a mini-Olympics for the military.
U.S. Armed Forces Sports Secretariat Steven Dinote contributed to this article.