WASHINGTON, DC (Shannon Collins) — As the Florida sun beat down on him, the medically retired infantryman took a deep breath, focused, and threw the shot put, earning a silver medal in his disability category at the Invictus Games in Orlando Florida, May 10.
Army Spc. Haywood Range III threw it 11.58 meters. He also earned a silver medal in the discus in his category as well, throwing it 29.27 meters. He was less than a meter away from the gold in both categories. He said he enjoyed participating in the Invictus Games and looks forward to the Department of Defense Warrior Games at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, June 15-21.
Approximately 250 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard, Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and the United Kingdom armed forces will participate in eight sporting events — archery, cycling, track and field, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming and wheelchair basketball.
The DoD Warrior Games highlight the resiliency and warrior spirit of service members, veterans and their families and caregivers.
At last year’s DoD Warrior Games, Haywood took the silver medal in discus and a silver medal in the 800-meter run. This year, his main goal is to finish, he said.
“I didn’t get to finish out last year’s Warrior Games, so this time, hopefully, I’ll get to finish it out and do all the running events and throw discus again and get in that pool again,” Range said.
Range said he hopes to compete in next year’s Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada. “I’ll definitely be training. I want to do more events. I eventually want to run and swim too,” he said. “I’m going to be training year-round.”
He said it felt great to have his family see him receive his medals at the Invictus Games. “It felt great, it really did,” he said, smiling. “It was special, emotional. Having my family, my wife, kids and extended family here supporting me, it felt real good. Next year, I’m looking for gold. I see where I am now, and I want to be better.”
Range said he was honored to represent Team Army and the U.S. “It’s amazing,” he said with a big smile. “I’m glad to be an American; especially representing the Army too, I love it.”
He said he also enjoyed the camaraderie among the athletes from other nations. “It’s amazing getting to meet people from all the other countries,” he said. “The medals, they’re nice, but the friendship you get by meeting all the other people from all the countries, not just the U.S., just everyone else, just talking and laughing with them, it’s amazing.”
Injury, Adaptive Sports
Range was injured during a combat training exercise on Sept. 2, 2012, when his Humvee rolled over and pinned his arm. He said he can’t remember how many surgeries he’s had.
“I just know when I woke up, my arm wasn’t there,” he said.
Range said adaptive sports gave him a new purpose.
“After the accident, I was laying in my hospital bed, wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life,” he said. “When I got to Fort Sam Houston [in Texas], they introduced me to adaptive sports, and I was like, ‘Gosh, I can compete again.’ I got involved with rowing, with shot put and discus, track, swimming. I just fell in love with it. It’s amazing. God is so good to me. He really is. I appreciate everything he’s done for me.”
Range said he doesn’t look at his fellow soldiers as competitors.
“It’s a competition, but I look at us as a family,” he said. “We’re here to compete against each other, but we’re a family. The camaraderie is so great here. We’re a brotherhood and sisterhood. It’s really special to me.”
Range, always with a smile on his face or a chuckle in his voice, said adaptive sports have made him more resilient.
“They put me in a relaxed state,” he said. “This is something I really enjoy, not just competing but getting to meet other athletes and understanding their injuries and what they’ve overcome. We all just push each other and motivate each other. We just bond so well together. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Whitney Range, who’s been married to her husband for three years, said she’s proud of him and how far he’s come.
“He’s so much more, so much bigger than the medals,” she said. “It’s a picture of him — overcoming. I’ve been able to see him grow so much. I’m just so proud of him.”
His daughter, Tara Harris, 8, said she’s proud of her dad, as well. “I’m glad he’s out there and having fun,” she said.
Harris said she loves that her dad smiles all the time and is impressed that he can swim with one arm. “It’s cool because he’s missing an arm,” she said, “and I can’t even swim with both my arms. It’s really cool.”
Range’s wife said she was pretty emotional when her husband competed at the Invictus Games.
“I was super emotional. I’m so proud of him,” she said. “I’m super proud to be his wife. I tell him all the time. And he really is so amazing, and so inspiring. It’s not about the medals. It’s really more about who he is, and what he’s overcome. We’re so proud of him.”