The Warrior Games are in full swing. 200 athletes from the United States' Armed Forces are squaring off this week in Colorado Springs.
It is not a combat situation, but battle lines are drawn in the name of inter-service competition for the first ever Warrior Games.
"A whole lotta pride in service, and pride in America, and pride in overcoming and being a survivor," said Justin Widhelm, during Monday's opening ceremonies. Widhelm survived a fall to the desert floor of Iraq to be able to count himself among the group.
"I was essentially thrown from the helicopter by a gust of wind from 25 feet in the air," he said.
The thrill of competition helped him return from suffering broken back, two broken feet, and a series of roadside bomb attacks. The kinds of fighting happening on two battlefronts have changed military servicemen and women's lives forever. Some have lost limbs, but not their competitive spirit.
"I figured if they can do it and, able bodied people can do it and they're facing trouble too, why can't I?" Widhelm said.
Sit volleyball touched off the Warrior Games Tuesday afternoon with Justin in the mix. The sport is a version of regular volleyball with a shorter court and lowered net. Each player must compete sitting on the floor. The modifications put each athlete on the same level regardless of ability.
"I saw all the amazing people doing amazing things and they were even worse off than me," said Widhelm.
The seven events making up the week-long Warrior Games are also included in the U.S. Paralympic competition.
"I hope to make the team in 2012 in cycling and 2014 in biathlon," Widhelm said.
Moving on to the Paralympics is a goal for Widhelm, and athletes like him, whose will to overcome and compete is, in itself, a victory.
The Warrior Games continue Wednesday morning with the Archery Competition at Memorial Park in Colorado Springs.
The events are open to the public free of charge.
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