Injured Troops Go For Gold In Warrior Games

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  • Cpt. Juan Guerrero was one of 200 disabled athletes chosen to attend the 2010 Inaugural Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Co. The games, which ran from May 10 to May 15, let wounded service members from all five branches of the military compete in seven different sports.
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    Cpt. Juan Guerrero was one of 200 disabled athletes chosen to attend the 2010 Inaugural Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Co. The games, which ran from May 10 to May 15, let wounded service members from all five branches of the military compete in seven different sports.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Guerrero, originally from Lima, Peru, now resides at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Here, he looks through a scope at the shooting range at the TMI private school in San Antonio.
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    Guerrero, originally from Lima, Peru, now resides at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Here, he looks through a scope at the shooting range at the TMI private school in San Antonio.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Guerrero suffered injuries to both his legs while serving with the Army in Iraq in 2007. He also suffers from PTSD, and doesn't like to ride in the passenger side of cars which can trigger memories of the accident. Here, he prepares to cycle on base in San Antonio.
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    Guerrero suffered injuries to both his legs while serving with the Army in Iraq in 2007. He also suffers from PTSD, and doesn't like to ride in the passenger side of cars which can trigger memories of the accident. Here, he prepares to cycle on base in San Antonio.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Guerrero was convoy commander for a bomb squad when his vehicle ran over an IED. He recieved lower leg injuries that resulted in a loss of part of his right calf, heel bone, and severe muscle and tissue damage.
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    Guerrero was convoy commander for a bomb squad when his vehicle ran over an IED. He recieved lower leg injuries that resulted in a loss of part of his right calf, heel bone, and severe muscle and tissue damage.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • In Colorado Springs, Guerrero prepares to compete in the first event, sitting volleyball, at the Warrior Games on May 11.
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    In Colorado Springs, Guerrero prepares to compete in the first event, sitting volleyball, at the Warrior Games on May 11.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Guerrero competes in a sitting volleyball match. In this sport, the net is about 3 feet high. Players are allowed to block serves, but one "cheek" must be in contact with the floor whenever they touch the ball.
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    Guerrero competes in a sitting volleyball match. In this sport, the net is about 3 feet high. Players are allowed to block serves, but one "cheek" must be in contact with the floor whenever they touch the ball.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Guerrero competes in the 20k cycling race held at the Air Force Academy on May 13. Cold weather hampered the athletes, and he did not place in the event.
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    Guerrero competes in the 20k cycling race held at the Air Force Academy on May 13. Cold weather hampered the athletes, and he did not place in the event.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Guerrero massages his left heal to bring back circulation in his foot after the cycling race. In addition, he suffers severe pain in his right leg, and is hoping to get an amputation to remove the damaged limb.
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    Guerrero massages his left heal to bring back circulation in his foot after the cycling race. In addition, he suffers severe pain in his right leg, and is hoping to get an amputation to remove the damaged limb.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Guerrero competes in the preliminary of the "Air Rifle – Prone – Lower Body Impairment" competition. He later won gold in the event, which came down to his last shot.
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    Guerrero competes in the preliminary of the "Air Rifle – Prone – Lower Body Impairment" competition. He later won gold in the event, which came down to his last shot.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Guerrero (center) walks with Robert Beach (left) and Richard Tack after the medal ceremony for the air rifle prone event.  "It really just proves so much for our service members that there is life after an injury," he said.
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    Guerrero (center) walks with Robert Beach (left) and Richard Tack after the medal ceremony for the air rifle prone event. "It really just proves so much for our service members that there is life after an injury," he said.
    Katie Hayes for NPR

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The inaugural Warrior Games wrapped up last week at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. It was a sports competition for about 200 wounded, ill and injured service members.

Army Capt. Juan Guerrero from Brooke Army Medical Center was one of the competitors. Guerrero, who fought in Desert Storm, was on his third tour in Iraq when a a roadside bomb ripped through his Humvee.

"If it wasn't for my medic, I would have lost at least my right leg from the get-go. But because of the training we always conducted on our downtime, he was able to do exactly what he was trained to do and as a result saved my legs," Guerrero says.

However, Guerrero did lose part of his right calf and left heel. The Army moved Guerrero to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he spent four-and-a-half months recovering.

For Guerrero and many who are injured, athletics can become an outlet for physical and emotional recovery. Add in a bit of competition and that's the idea behind the first-ever Warrior Games. The competition pits the five military branches against one another in seven sports, including cycling, track, swimming and wheelchair basketball.

"It really just proves so much for our service members that there is life after an injury," says Brig. Gen. Gary Cheek, who oversees the Army's units for wounded warriors. "They're going to reinforce some things they already knew about abilities that they have. But they're going to discover some new things."

Guerrero competed in three sports: sitting volleyball, cycling and prone air rifle shooting. He won the gold medal in the shooting competition. The gold came down to his last shot, and he says, the message of perseverance is important.

"Try it, and if you don't succeed, try again," he says.

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