By Jim Wenzel, WTC Stratcom
SGT Robert “Rob” Laux and SGT Robert “Rob” Brown may be recuperating and healing from injuries they sustained in combat, but that won’t stop them from returning to battle with wounded warriors from the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard at the 1st Annual Warrior Games to be held at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs, CO, on May 10–14, 2010.
SGT Laux and SGT Brown have chosen to compete in the “Ultimate Warrior”, a pentathlon consisting of two track events, 50 meter free swim, 10 meter air rifle, and shot put. Even though both will be competing for the Army team, the joking and conversation at shot and discus training Tuesday, April 20, demonstrated a fierce competitiveness that comes with the understanding that only one soldier, sailor, airman, or marine can be the Ultimate Warrior.
SGT Laux and SGT Brown’s training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center will soon wind down as competitors leave for the OTC on May 5, and begin the final stage of preparation at the far more demanding height of 7,000 feet above sea level. In the Walter Reed auditorium that afternoon, the athletes were reminded of the harsh role altitude will play by Charlie Hubner, Chief of Paralympics, U.S. Olympic Committee and leader of a delegation of Olympians and Paralympians from Beijing and Vancouver Games.
During the USOC presentation, the Warrior Games athletes previewed “Warrior Champions”, a movie about the inspiring story of four wounded Iraq war Veterans who overcame their injuries to compete at the 2008 Summer and 2010 Winter Paralympic Games. Melissa Stockwell, a U.S. Paralympic Team swimmer, and Heath Calhoun, a world-class U.S. Paralympic Team skier, also spoke about the power of healing through sports and their journey from rehabilitation at Walter Reed to the Olympic stage.
Heath, who was chosen to carry the U.S. flag at the Vancouver Opening Ceremonies, said during difficult periods of recovery, “50% of getting there is taking the first step.”
These powerful words of encouragement from former Soldiers who suffered combat-related injuries requiring the loss of one or both legs and went on to realize their dreams of Olympic competition could not have come at a better time for these Warrior Games athletes. Perhaps the Games will lead some of them down a similar path to the London Paralympic Games of 2012 or inspire them to achieve other life goals inside or outside of the sporting arena. Certainly for SGT Laux and SGT Brown it has steeled their resolve to become the Warrior Games 2010 Ultimate Warrior.