CHICAGO, July 4, 2017 —
Archers matched arrow for arrow, forcing a shootout in two medal rounds during the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games here yesterday.
About 265 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command, United Kingdom and the Australian Defense Force are competing through Saturday in shooting, archery, cycling, track and field, swimming, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball. Archery events took place at McCormick Place here.
The tightest competition was between two Socom competitors, Army Sgt. 1st Class Rick Devericks and medically retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Josh Lindstrom in the compound bow gold and silver medal round. By the third round, Lindstrom had a perfect score of 90; Deverick had an 89. During the last round, Deverick shot three bull’s-eyes and Lindstrom shot his first nonbull's-eye of the medal round, forcing them into a shootoff with a 119 tie. Lindstrom went on to win the gold by a millimeter difference.
“They were incredible,” Socom coach Kim Rigney said. “They worked so hard for the last six months to a year with their own equipment, putting time in, money in, and hours behind a bow. It’s just incredible to see it come to fruition and pan out. They were point for point; they were tied for the gold medal even after the regulation rounds and had to shoot closest to the center. It was a millimeter difference for gold and silver. It was record breaking for Socom, gold and silver medals in archery, what a great day. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Lindstrom’s wife, Christine, and children, said they were very proud of him.
“He’s been working so hard. He’s been working for almost a year, shooting almost daily, practicing in the sun and the rain, just putting everything he had in this. I’m just so proud that he competed and won the gold medal,” Christine said. “His competition was pretty stiff. I’m so proud of him. I’m glad we brought our kids and his parents. I’m glad the whole family can be here for this really incredible experience. I’m just beside myself. I’m so proud of him.”
Lindstrom said he’s humbled and grateful to be a part of an event like the Warrior Games because he feels like he’s part of the military again and training gives him something he can teach his children.
“I’m humbled and grateful to get that same feeling just before you step off the ramp into the dark or get off the helicopter onto the objective. You don’t realize how much you miss the extreme performance when you leave the military,” the former Green Beret said. He said it’s jarring to go from a life of full combat night jumps followed by a 25-mile ruck march, to days full of medical appointments.
“I’m grateful for that opportunity to feel that competition again, to feel that drive to do something great,” he said. Lindstrom missed the games last year because of an injury and had to learn to shoot left-handed. His goal is to start competing against able bodied competitors in archery competitions, though he will be competing in the Invictus Games in September.
For the bronze medal in the compound bow category, Army Staff Sgt. Greg Quarles shot against the U.K.’s medically retired Flight Lt. Carl Harding. Quarles had a one-point lead with six arrows to go, and then Harding matched him. During the fourth round, they tied with a total of 115 points, forcing a shootoff. Quarles shot a 9, and Harding shot an X, which means dead center of the target for the win.
“That bronze medal was really hard. So many times, I’ve lost it at that position and then boom, it was a good one. I’ve actually won something; this is fantastic,” Harding said. “I made it to the bronze medal match at the Invictus Games and lost that one, but did get a gold medal with the team. This was fantastic. I’ve actually won something in this arena with all these Americans who go hunting with their compound bows. It’s illegal in the United Kingdom to shoot anything with a string instrument, so to win on the compound side, in the land of compounds, it’s brilliant.”
For the bronze medal in the recurve bow category, medically retired Army Lance Cpl. Matthew Elliott from the U.K. shot against medically retired Marine Corps Master Sgt. Mark Mann. Mann had a one-point lead with six arrows to go into the last two rounds. Mann extended his lead and had a six-point lead going into the final round and sent his last two arrows down the middle. Mann won the bronze with a total of 95 points, Elliott, 84.
During the recurve gold and silver match, Royal Air Force Flight Lt. Jennifer Collins and Air Force Staff Sgt. Vincent Cavazos came in with a 103-point tie. Collins went on to win the gold with a total of 97, Cavazos, 91.
“It’s been fantastic to be part of a team again, everyone supporting you and winning gold,” Collins said. “It’s also nice laying down to all these boys, going, ‘Yeah, bring it on.’” She said she’s leaving the Air Force at the end of the year, so earning gold is finishing “on a high” for her.
For the team rounds, in the recurve category, it was the U.K. for the gold, Marines, silver, and Navy for the bronze. In the team compound category, Army took the gold, Socom the silver, and the Marines took the bronze.
During the preliminaries, each athlete shot 60 arrows, 20 rounds, three arrows per round. The top eight advanced to the medal rounds. Team Army archery head coach medically retired Capt. Frank Barroquiero said he felt confident about his athletes making it into the final round -- the team went on to win gold.
Going into the competition, British Team archery coach Pete Morris had high hopes for his team as well. When the United Kingdom team found out that three of them made it into the top eight, they were excited.
For Team Australia, they were short of equipment, so the teamwork of the games came into play during the preliminaries. They used an Army bow, Socom target and RAF arrows, Australian Army Sgt. Simon Horridge said. “The support Australia has received has been absolutely fantastic, there’s nothing they won’t do for us.”
(Follow Shannon Collins on Twitter @CollinsDoDNews)