By Shannon Collins
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va., June 22, 2015 – As the heat of the day seeped in, the wounded, ill and injured hand cyclists, recumbent and upright riders each warmed up, shook off their nerves and got ready to race in the cycling competition yesterday at the 2015 DoD Warrior Games here.
Throughout the games, wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans from the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard as well as members of the British forces will compete in track and field, shooting, swimming, cycling, archery, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.
Though Marine Corps Cpl. Gabby Graves-Wake earned a gold medal in the women’s recumbent T1 category, she said her main goal was finishing strong with her fellow female Marines.
“We started strong and we ended strong,” she said. “We’re a team. We started together. We worked together the entire time to block the wind, to draft off each other, to make sure we were a group of Marines out there accomplishing the mission that no one was left behind. It’s how it’s always been and that’s how it’s always going to be.”
Graves-Wake’s fellow female Marines were in the open and T2 recumbent categories and crossed the finish line with her.
“I was pretty nervous and the adrenaline was going but as soon as they said we were off, my legs started moving,” she said. “It was muscle memory, and training kicked in. I enjoyed the ride, the breeze was on my face, and I came in with my two buddies.”
British forces team member retired army Sgt. Andy Perrin earned a gold medal in the men’s recumbent tandem with medically retired U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Chuck Sketch and then went on to earn a gold medal in the men’s open upright. He said the heat was a bit brutal, and he and Sketch had a few mechanical issues that initially put them in the back of the pack, but then they started gaining on everyone.
“We started picking everybody off as we went along and did well, and Chuck was really happy and that’s the main thing,” Perrin said. “He loved it, coming through and overtaking people.”
Perrin said he enjoys participating in events like the Invictus Games and the Warrior Games.
‘It’s Not Really About Winning’
“I’m friends with some of the Army guys, and I ride with Chuck, the Marine,” he said. “We’re doing a big group ride this week and to be honest, that’s what it’s all about. It’s not really about winning when you come to the Warrior Games. It’s more about making new friends and meeting people in your situation and having a bit of fun, really.”
Perrin added, “There’s a lot of people learning to race for the first time and one of them was just behind me when we came in and that was his first race. Hopefully he learned a little bit and that’s what it’s about really and everybody’s in it together. It just happens that there are a few medals at the end.”