A total of five military veterans will form part of the United States’ 12-man sitting volleyball squad for next month’s Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, it has been announced.
James Stuck, John Kremer, Dan Regan, Jese Schag and Josh Smith have all served in the American military and will represent their country at the event, which runs from September 7-18.
Stuck lost most of his right leg in Iraq in December 2005 when his Humvee struck a roadside bomb, while Kremer also suffered his injury in the line of duty.
Kremer had to have both legs amputated below the knee after he stepped on a landmine while serving in Afghanistan in 2010.
“You’re starting to see more and more veterans participate in disabled sports because so many of them are coming back from two wars fought overseas, and it’s making it tougher to make the Paralympics,” said Stuck, a setter on the sitting volleyball team for the past six years. “So making the team is an honour.”
Despite his injury, Stuck continued to remain active and was skiing on one leg just five weeks after the explosion, before he began to pursue a career in sitting volleyball through the Military Paralympic Summit.
“I remember doing a convoy operation to provide security for the engineers who were doing road construction,” he said. “We drove the entire route and then started on our way back. About halfway back we got struck. My right leg below the knee was shattered, and I was completely knocked out.”
On his selection, Schag added: “I joined to serve my country and protect those who can’t protect themselves. When I got injured I started playing sports and was in the first two Warrior Games for the Marines.”
The American men’s side will join hosts Brazil, the Parapan American Games champions, Egypt and Paralympic bronze medalists Germany in Pool A at next month’s Games.
Sitting volleyball events at Rio 2016 are due to be held between September 9-18 at the Riocentro Pavilion 6.
The US women’s team will be bidding to go one better than at London 2012, where they lost out in the gold medal match to China.
By Liam Morgan
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz