Athletic Inspiration – AW2 Veterans in Paralympics

By Emily Oehler, WTC Stratcom

Although I don’t typically watch a lot of sports, I always follow the Olympics. As a non-athlete (see my blog on running the Army 10 Miler), watching athletes of this caliber in action is amazing, unbelievable and beautiful. During the Winter Games, I was captivated by the women’s downhill skiing and men’s snowboarding.

Watching these athletes, hearing their stories and being a part of their triumphs awoke my lazy inner-athlete. Yes, after a four-month hiatus, it was time start running again. I got new shoes (hey, even the Olympians have great uniforms!) and hit the pavement.

To keep up my momentum, I will look to new Olympic athletes for inspiration — those at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C., March 12-21, 2010. The U.S. Team, made up of athletes from 20 U.S. states, will compete in five sports (alpine skiing, biathlon, cross country skiing, sled hockey and wheelchair curling). A projected 600 elite athletes with a physical disability from more than 40 countries are expected to compete at the Games.

Among the 50 athletes, five are U.S. military veterans:

  • Heath Calhoun (Grundy, Va.), alpine skiing – a double above the knee amputee, AW2 Veteran (Iraq War Veteran)
  • Chris Devlin-Young (Campton, N.H.), alpine skiing – retired U.S. Coast Guard
  • Sean Halsted (Spokane, Wash.), cross country skiing – retired U.S. Air Force
  • Patrick McDonald (Orangevale, Calif.), wheelchair curling – retired U.S. Army
  • Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas), cross country skiing & biathlon – a double leg amputee, AW2 Veteran (Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom)

I look forward to watching these wounded warriors in action and using their stories to keep me inspired during my daily runs. Hope you’ll cheer them on with me!

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