Nearly 250 U.S. Marines have their eyes set on the 2013 Warrior Games held  in the Colorado Springs Air Force Academy later this year, but only 50 will qualify  For now, these wounded warriors train in California’s Camp Pendleton with soldiers from eight countries in sports such as archery, swimming and wheelchair basketball.

According to U-T San Deigo, these athlete soldiers train for much more than a medal, they work hard to improve their bodies and spirits.

“It’s just kind of getting me back to being normal,” said Sgt. Kaleb Weakley, who was shot in the leg during a tour in Afghanistan. “It teaches you to come back to the basics and just let everything that you know and are familiar with — just let it go and start over.”

Many wounded warriors echoed the same sentiment. Being a competitive athlete helps these veterans reconnect with who they were and who they are now. Some are even learning new skills they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Over a hundred Marine archers took the field over the weekend to keep their skills, and eyes, sharp. If they qualify for the Warrior Games, some of these marines will be matched up against their counterparts in the Army, Navy/Coast Guard, Air Force and Special Operations. Top performers at Colorado Springs have a chance to move on to the International Paralympic Games.

“We are proud to host the Warrior Games at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the Air Force Academy,” said USOC Chief of Paralympics Charlie Huebner. “Paralympic sport has a tremendously positive impact on individuals with physical disabilities, and the Warrior Games allow us to salute these fine young men and women who have served their countries honorably.”

The games will take place on May 11-17 and are open to the public.

The coach of the archery team, John Fuller, is a decorated 28-year Marine veteran and a sharpshooter with bow and arrow. He placed first at the 2007 North Carolina Senior Games and holds state records in archery.

Image courtesy U.S. Department of Defense

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