By SGT Jennifer Spradlin, 43rd Public Affairs Detachment
After months of intensive training, an extremely competitive selection process, one week of on-site practices, and immeasurable amounts of friendly trash talk, it was finally time for the athletes of the 2012 Warrior Games Army cycling team to shut up, cycle, and win.
And that’s just what they did. The Army went on to win six individual medals on the hilly U.S. Air Force Academy course—two gold, one silver, and three bronze—and tie the Marine Corps after the first event of the competition.
CPT William Longwell started the Army off the strong by finishing first in the men’s 10k hand cycle event with a blistering time of 20 minutes, 54 seconds. Veteran Anthony Robinson also performed well in a fast race and took the bronze in the same event.
“It felt great to cross the finish line. I knew I was in first, and I knew I was the first medal for the Army,” said Longwell. “I definitely got tired during the race. I knew I had a 300m lead on everybody, and so I took it a little bit easier up the last big hill, but then I looked over my shoulder and saw the Marine back there and downshifted a little bit more and kept going. I just kept thinking to myself, ‘keep going, keep truckin’.”
Longwell attributed his success to the amount of training and preparation he underwent prior to the games. He said he was biking on average between 40 and 60 miles a week. Longwell, a Batavia, Ill. native, began cycling in January when a combat injury had sidelined his ability to do other cardiovascular workouts, and soon found himself hooked.
“I knew I was going to win. I just trained too hard not to win, but more so than anything, I was trying to beat my own personal time I set for myself,” said Longwell, who encouraged other wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers to get outside, have fun, and try out the cycling community.
Next off the race line were the female bicycle events. Not to be outdone by their male counterparts, the women swept the medal stand. Army Veteran Tanya Anderson, a full-time cycling coach for the Marine Corps at the Wounded Warrior Battalion-East at Camp Lejuene, claimed gold with a time of 18 minutes, 28 seconds. The silver medal went to Veteran Margaux Vair, and the bronze went to 1LT Lacey Hamilton.
“I am proud of the entire female squad,” said Anderson a Laguna Beach, Calif., native. “We came and swept the whole field like we had planned.”
Despite working closely with the Marine Corps, Anderson said making the Army team and being around other Soldiers felt like coming home, and winning the medal helped cement her Warrior Games experience.
“It was such an honor to go out there and represent the Army and win the gold,” said Anderson.
The final races, the Men’s 30k bicycle open and the 30k physical disability, were the most competitive of the day, each event saw several lead changes and cyclists sprinting to the finish line to place. SSG John Masters emerged the lone medalist for the Army in the two categories, finishing just ahead of another Army bicyclist for the bronze in the 30k physical disability.
The Warrior Games bring together wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers in a sporting competition hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Competition continues throughout the week with archery, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, and track and field.
To learn more about the Warrior Games or the Army athletes, visit the Warrior Transition Command at www.WTC.army.mil.