They were heroes on the battlefield, and now they’re champions on the sporting field.
An elite team of wounded warriors-turned-decorated athletes tackled a triathlon at Prospect Park on Monday, kicking off a new sporting competition that organizers hope will highlight inspirational veterans who are still kicking goals — sometimes literally — after making a huge sacrifice for our country.
“They have overcome catastrophic injuries, but they could smoke any of us,” said Erica Rubach, a spokeswoman for organizer OurVetsSuccess, an organization that cheers the achievements of military veterans.
The group selected 12 vets from around the country to vie head-to-head in three rounds of competition across New York dubbed the Triumph Games.
The men and woman competing all lost limbs or mobility in the line of duty, but have gone on to become national or international medalists in sports such as swimming, basketball, hockey, and skiing.
The games kicked off on Monday with an intense trifecta of cycling, kayaking, and rifle-shooting at Prospect Park’s LeFrak Center, on the Prospect Lefferts Gardens side of the park.
The warriors will compete in a video-game battle in Manhattan on Thursday. And on Saturday, they will go bumper-to-bumper in a motor race at an upstate track, with a $100,000 prize for the final victor.
Organizers hope the event will help shift the public perception of veterans away from war and crisis towards stories of success.
“Those are that we want to tell, and the Triumph Games is a platform to communicate those stories,” said Mary L. Hagy, the founder of OurVetSuccess.
Hagy says the inaugural games have so far been an uplifting experience for all involved — made even better thanks to the scenic backdrop of Brooklyn’s backyard.
“Prospect Park was the perfect location for our triathlon in all respects,” she said. “It was just a great experience.”