By Emily D. Anderson, Warrior Transition Command Communications Directorate
Army Warrior Games medalist Spc. Elizabeth Wasil won three gold medals in racing wheelchair at the 2013 PARA CISM Track and Field Games in Germany.
Wounded, ill and injured athletes from 16 nations proved ready and resilient when they arrived in Warendorf, Germany to compete in the Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) 2013 World Para-Track and Field Championships,Sept. 9-16.
Among the competitors were Sgt. Ryan McIntosh and Spc. Elizabeth Wasil. They represented the U.S. Armed Forces during one of the largest multi-sport discipline events in the world.
“I am so passionate about sports,” said Wasil, a Prescott Valley, Ariz., and assigned to the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). The WCAP provides outstanding Soldier-athletes with support and training to compete and succeed in national and international competitions leading to Olympic and Paralympic Games while maintaining a professional military career.
She reached new goals by winning first place in the women’s 100-meters, 200-meters and 1500-meters racing wheelchair competition. She also cinched a third-place finish in the men’s 1500-meters racing final.
“I was just honored to be a part of this event because this was a chance to take it to a higher echelon of competition,” said Wasil, who sustained bilateral hip injuries while on assignment in Afghanistan in 2010 as a combat medic. Her injuries impeded her ability to walk and required her to undergo three surgeries to restructure her hips in order to regain mobility.
“While competing, I had the honor to compete with athletes from many other countries,” Wasil said. “Some who had been injured serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, and this brought me an overwhelming amount of gratitude for all of those outside of the United States who stood and still stand with us.”
“It was humbling to know these ‘strangers’ not only said I will stand beside a country that is not my own but I will continue to love and support them even when I have been injured during that service,” she added. “At no time did I feel I was competing against another country, but with them.”
McIntosh attests to Wasil’s unparalleled ability that continues to propel her military and athletic career despite her injuries.
“We have trained together at previous events,” said McIntosh referring to Warrior Games, a unique partnership between the Department of Defense and U.S. Olympic Committee Paralympic Military Program. “It was fun to watch her compete and to know how far she’s come – to see where she is now.”
During the competition, McIntosh, assigned as the adaptive sports noncommissioned officer in charge, and the ceremonies’ noncommissioned officer in charge at the Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, left an impression by winning silver in the 100-meters and 200-meters men’s para-track events.
“It was fun a new experience, and to compete at that high level is amazing,” said McIntosh, a right leg below the knee amputee resulting from stepping on a pressure plate land mine while deployed to Afghanistan in 2010.
“When I lost my leg I didn’t think I would be doing sports,” added McIntosh, who recently applied for WCAP. “Now I’m doing anything and everything that I can.”
The United States Armed Forces has been a member of the CISM since 1951 and holds CISM Military World Championships or events each year. The CISM represents the highest level of military athletic competitiveness, and often includes Olympians and world champions. The U.S. Delegation competes in 19 of the 26 sports offered, averaging around 12-15 sports annually. CISM championships are hosted around the world and provide a venue for the United States to project a positive image through military-to-military sports engagement.
Macintosh’s and Wasil’s accomplishments are examples of the benefits of adaptive reconditioning. Adaptive reconditioning activities and sports are valuable components in the recovery process of wounded, ill or injured Soldiers recovering at WTUs. Reconditioning activities aid the recovery process and promote social, physical, spiritual, Family and career goals. Learn more about adaptive reconditioning benefits and programs by visiting http://www.army.WTC.mil/solider/adaptive.html