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Warrior Games make triumphant return to Colorado Springs

Air Force Staff Sgt. David Olson, an explosive ordnance disposal troop from Abilene, TX, cheers enthusiastically as the Air Force is introduced at the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games opening ceremony July 1, 2017, at Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill. While it has been a short seven-month journey for Olson toward recovery, he recalls how dark of a place he was previously in compared to now, noting the measurable distance he is today from who he was then. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

Staff Sgt. David Olson (right), an explosive ordnance disposal technician from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, cheers as the Air Force is introduced at the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games opening ceremony July 1, 2017, at Soldier Field, Chicago. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Community and business leaders joined representatives of the military at the Air Force Academy recently to mark the 100-day countdown until athletes arrive in Colorado for the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games.

Now in their ninth year, the Warrior Games are returning to Colorado Springs, the city that hosted the inaugural Games in 2010. The Warrior Games will be free and open to the public throughout the competitions from June 2 – 9, 2018.

Staff Sgt. David Olson, an explosive ordnance disposal troop from Hill Air Force Base participated in the games in July 2017.

Currently, more than 125 wounded, ill and injured servicemen and women are participating in their chosen sports at the Air Force Trials at Nellis AFB, Nevada.

The trials started Feb. 23 and will conclude March 2 with top athletes moving on to compete at the DoD Warrior Games.

The Warrior Games are a Paralympic-style competition between the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations Command. The United Kingdom Armed Forces, Australian Defence Force, and for the first time in Warrior Games history, the Canadian Armed Forces, recently confirmed they will compete in the Warrior Games. This will be the sixth year the U.K. Armed Forces will compete in the Warrior Games and the second time for Australian Defence Force athletes.

Lieutenant General Gina Grosso, Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services and senior Air Force officer hosting the evening’s event announced the addition of three new adaptive sports to this year’s line-up: indoor rowing, powerlifting and time trial cycling. The other eight events include archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, and wheelchair basketball.

"In my 30-plus years of service, nothing has moved me more than seeing the determination, resiliency and pure strength of our wounded, ill and injured service members," said Lt Gen. Grosso. "In nearly 100 days, more than 200 warriors will arrive at Colorado Springs, Olympic City USA, to compete amongst each other for Gold, but more importantly, the comradery, healing, and recovery that comes with competitive sports.”

"This is by far and away one of the most exciting sporting events I've ever witnessed," she added.

The 2018 Warrior Games, free and open to the public, are an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of wounded, injured and ill service members and veterans in overcoming adversity and thriving against the odds.

The Department of Defense Warrior Games were established in 2010 as a way to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded, ill and injured service members and to expose them to adaptive sports. Approximately 250 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and U.S. Special Operations Command will participate in the competition. They will go head-to-head in 11 sports including archery, cycling and time trial cycling, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, shooting, swimming, powerlifting, wheelchair basketball, track and field, engaging in friendly competition and experiencing the healing power of sports.

(75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs contributed to this article.)