By LTC Jeanette Griffin, WTC Stratcom
Recently, more than 40 wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and Veterans traveled across the country to participate in the first WTC track and field clinic in preparation for the 2012 Warrior Games.
During the three-day clinic held February 9-11 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and Walter Reed National Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, coaches gave the athletes a baseline on how to perform their best during track and field as they competed to become one of the 50 athletes representing the Army in the 2012 Warrior Games, April 30 – May 5, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“Track and field athletes must have the best-timed performances for the track events,” said Warrior Games Army track and field coach, retired LTC Sue Bozgoz. “Athletes competing in track must have the capacity factor [X-factor], meaning we want the runners who possess sufficient speed and endurance.”
“Athletes should be able to start, run the bends, straights, and pass the baton well,” she added. “They also need to possess a high degree of competitiveness.”
On the first day, competing athletes gathered at Fort Belvoir’s Pullen Field for a few administrative details, then divided into two groups. The first group assembled for the 100-meter, 200-meter, and 1500-meter dash events while the second group met on the field and demonstrated their ability to throw the shot put and discus.
Along with Bozgoz, members from her International Running Team, I Run for God (IR4G), an AW2 Community Support Networkorganization that helps AW2 Soldiers and Veterans in adaptive sports and recreational services, were at the clinic to help assess the athletes’ current levels of fitness, provide additional one-on-one training, and to pace and time the runners.
“The coaches are great,” said
SPC Christopher Weber, a Soldier assigned to the Fort Drum Warrior Transition Unit, who sustained injuries to his back and left elbow during a dismounted patrol in Afghanistan. “They have given some great advice on how to train for track and field.”
Although the training, excitement, and camaraderie of the athletes seemed to overshadow the chilly temperature of 33°F, some Soldiers and Veterans were no strangers to training in cold weather.
“I have always enjoyed running and competed in track during high school,” said Weber who deals with the average Fort Drum daily high temperature below 37°F, he did not have difficulty competing at Fort Belvoir on a cold, sunny, and breezy day. “I want to win gold for the Army, so I plan to train five days a week, running short distances, and focus on running activities that increase my speed and endurance.”
“This clinic was inspiring. Everyone worked together as a team,” said Weber, who hopes to also be selected for the Army’s swimming team. “This was a great way to compete and meet new people.”
At Warrior Games, athletes from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Special Operations will compete for the gold in archery, cycling, wheelchair basketball, shooting, swimming, track and field, and sitting volleyball.
However, to qualify for the Warrior Games Army field team, athletes must throw either the shot put or discus the farthest distance.
“We have some phenomenal talent on the field team,” said retired CPT Millie Daniels, coach for the field events. “It will be really tough to narrow the team down to the top athletes for discus and shot put.”
In addition to track and field training events, athletes learned how to train the body for optimal performance by focusing on nutrition, physical fitness planning, mental toughness, spiritual, family, socialization, and teamwork.
“Are we going to win the most medals in track and field?” Bozgoz asked. “If we strategically place the right athletes in the right events, we will not only win the most medals, we will dominate!”