Military, National

U.S. Army Veteran Cycles to Recovery, Runs to Gold at Invictus Games

U.S. Army veteran Sean Johnson and guide Greg Miller tackle the hill during the tandem cycling event at High Park, Toronto, Canada, Sept. 26, 2017 during the Invictus Games. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Robert A. Whetstone)

TORONTO—(ENEWSPF)—September 30, 2017

By: Robert A. Whetstone, Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

For U.S. Army veteran Sean Johnson, his first Invictus Games have been nothing short of awesome. “It’s like Warrior Games (DoD) at a whole different level,” said Johnson. “This is really athletes at their best.”

Johnson, who is legally blind, competed with his guide Greg Miller in the tandem bike cycling event Sept. 26-27 in scenic High Park, Toronto. In the Paralympic-style cycling event, athletes may compete on either a road bike, hand cycle, recumbent bike, or tandem bike.

More than 550 wounded, ill and injured service members from 17 nations are competing here from Sept. 23-30 in 12 sporting events, including archery, track and field, cycling, golf, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball.

For Johnson, the most eye-opening experience has been meeting soldiers from other countries and sharing treatment practices with them. “I find it interesting to see how they recover, because to me, we have a good recovery program,” he explained.

Johnson believes sports and competition were and continue to be critical to his recovery and health — especially cycling. “Being blind gives me an avenue; it’s a sport that gives me an ability to participate in something I did before losing my sight,” said Johnson. “Cycling is something I can do with someone as a team, which is important to me. It’s something I haven’t experienced since I was injured.”

Cycling is not the only adaptive sport that Johnson plays. “I swim and throw the shot put and discus,” said Johnson. He also runs track, competing here in the IT6 category of the 1500 meter run. The category is for visually impaired athletes who run with a guide or tether with another individual. Johnson won the gold medal in this event.

Johnson hopes that other Soldiers will pursue sports as an avenue of recovery and self-empowerment. “Find a sport that you like and get into it,” he said. “It’s enjoyable, it’s a challenge, and it is something that will help you forget about the aches and pains and recover quicker.”