SA chosen as site of 2020 DOD Warrior Games

Paralympic-style competition for injured, ill, wounded service members, veterans

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter, Luis Cienfuegos - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - Already known as "Military City, USA," San Antonio will be the host city for the 2020 Department of Defense Warrior Games, city officials announced Thursday.

The Paralympic-style competition, which will be hosted in 2020 by the Marine Corps, brings together injured, ill or wounded active-duty service members and veterans to compete each year for the honor of their branch of service.

Events in the 2019 games, which will take place in June in Tampa, Florida, include archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, indoor rowing, powerlifting, and time trial cycling.

"When they win a medal, they win it for their team. And they don't play their national anthem. They play their service song," said retired Marine Maj. Gen. Juan Ayala, the director of the city's San Antonio Office of Military and Veteran Affairs.

The games can mean a great deal to wounded service members like Marine Cpl. Mathew Maddux.

Maddux, the Marines' ambassador for the 2020 games, was injured in 2017 when a malfunction in his tank caused a nuclear, biological and chemical system to overheat and combust next to him. The blast left him with burns on his face, impaired peripheral vision, vertigo problems and a prosthetic ear.

Waking up after the incident, Maddux said he knew right away life would be different. Like the Marine he is, Maddux learned to adapt and overcome, competing in the 2018 Warrior Games.

"I was the ultimate champion last year -- did all the sports," Maddux said. "I got a bronze medal in the 4x100, like a relay team."

More than physically, he says, the games helped him mentally.

"Mentally reassuring yourself that you can still go out there and be an athlete," Maddux said. "Still go out there and still be in a fight."

Ayala, who the 2015 Warrior Games when he was still in the Marines, says the competition is special.

"They're focused on the recuperative powers to make that athlete feel like he or she are back in the game, they're back in the unit, they're back in the fight," Ayala said.

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