Members of the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior track team hone their technique, speed and distance for the 2013 Wounded Warrior Games at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
COLORADO SPRINGS — The son of a Jonesboro couple knows how an explosion, crash, gunshot, sickness or emotional trauma can push a someone to a place of unfamiliarity. And through the healing process, Paralympic sport gives many survivors a chance to prove anyone can overcome disability.
Army Staff Sgt. Michael Lage, a 1995 Lovejoy High School graduate, is the son of Rose and Lawrence Lage Jr. of Jonesboro. He competed for the Army team this week in the 2013 Warrior Games at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans from the Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Special Operations Command competed with a team from the British military. The events included track and field, shooting, swimming, cycling, archery, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.
Lage competed in swimming and track.
“It is a great honor to be able to represent the Army and other wounded soldiers in the Warrior Games,” said Lage, heading into competition. “I am ecstatic about being here and showing my family and friends I can still be an athlete.”
He sustained a left hand and right thumb amputation while serving in Iraq.
On June 20, 2007, an improvised explosive device claimed the lives of other members of his team. He suffered from third degree burns on more than 35 percent of his body.
Lage said the most challenging adjustment for him was learning to function without his left hand and right thumb.
“Having no thumbs is very difficult, but I’ve learned to overcome most of the challenges I’ve faced in life,” he said.
He credits his wife, April, as his biggest supporter.
“My wife has supported me like no other,” he said. “She is my biggest fan and cheers me on every day.”
Lage also credits the Warrior Transition Battalion and competitions like the Warrior Games.
“The WTB helped me heal and realize life was not over. I’m more resilient than I gave myself credit for,” he said. “Most soldiers are natural athletes and when they get injured, it takes that away. Competing in the Warrior Games and showing people with disabilities that you can achieve anything you put your mind to, it just feels awesome.”