VIDEO: Valor Games test disabled athletes

VIDEO: Valor Games test disabled athletes

Donna Eyestone

Video by Donna Eyestone.

I did not overcome the loss of my limb. To overcome the loss would mean I’d have to grow it back. What I overcame were the limits I placed on myself and that others placed on me. This is what is universal for all of us to overcome.” - John Register, All-American long jumper to Paralympic Silver medalist.

 

This weekend I enjoyed a short bike ride over the Park Street Bridge and over another bridge on to Coast Guard Island. This was my first time on the military island and I was excited to see it while covering part of the four-day Valor Games Far West.

The games are a sport competition for veterans and active duty service members who have a disability. They were established in 2011 by World Sport Chicago in partnership with U.S. Paralympics and the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide an introductory sports competition for veterans and service members with a disability and to promote sports at the community level. Athletes are provided with lodging and meals at no charge.

Disabled veterans and service members came to Coast Guard Island to participate in – and learn how to participated in – sports using adaptive techniques. Archery, biathlon, cycling, field, powerlifting and swimming were among the sports included in the competition. While I was there I got the chance to see the biathlon and powerlifting, which you can see highlighted in the video.

I wondered how Alameda could host a biathlon event that includes cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. The skiing was done on a piece of gym equipment that simulates the motions of cross-country skiing – it looked like a rowing machine that you approach standing, if you are able. At the Valor Games, many approached this machine with prosthetic limbs, and others rolled by wheelchair. Service dogs accompanied many, waiting patiently as their handlers competed.

After getting the heart beating with the cardio work of skiing, participants then moved to the rifle range – also indoors thanks to the power of laser beams, which were used in lieu of live ammunition. The electronic targets sit about 20 feet from the shooting stations. This is a timed event, but you lose points if you miss a target, so the concentration and control needed to do this requires discipline. Depending on the shooter’s physical restrictions, adaptations were made to the rifles and mounts so that they were accessible to athletes of any ability.

Next I went over to see the powerlifting event that took place inside a very nice gym on Coast Guard Island. There were bleachers for spectators –a supportive and encouraging group. The event was a bit slow to get started, but I think this was mostly because everyone was talking with each other. It felt much like a reunion.

Men and women competed, and everyone received high-fives and lots of encouragement no matter what amount of weight they lifted. Many approached with canes, wheelchairs, even a white cane used by the visually impaired. Approaching the weight benches often seemed like where the real work began – followed by the actual lifting. It was competitive, though: Weights lifted were being tallied, and people were pushing themselves to lift more than they had before.

As I got back on my bike for the short ride home, I enjoyed a different view of Alameda from Coast Guard Island. The Valor Games is an example of sport at its very best.

Comments

Submitted by Wlliam (not verified) on Mon, Jun 2, 2014

Thanks for bringing this to us. Had no idea this event was taking place, but am happy and proud that Alameda sponsored it. It is always rewarding to observe the human spirit and how people want to achieve. I enjoyed the video.