The 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games came to a close June 30 in Tampa, Florida.
This year’s games were co-hosted by U.S. Special Operations Command and the city of Tampa. For only the second time since the games began in 2010, the events for the annual Paralympic-style competition were held in public venues instead of on military installations.
The venue change helped this year’s games break several Warrior Games records, according to the Tampa Bay Times, including the most athletes and public turnout.
“It’s the largest crowds that we have ever had at a Warrior Games from the public’s perspective," said Col. Cary Harbaugh, director of this year’s games, in a statement to Military Times. "From the added sports that we have never had, to the most athletes that we have ever had at the Warrior Games, it’s just been absolutely wonderful and phenomenal across the board.”
“Best I’ve ever seen in a Warrior Games when it comes to public turnout," Harbaugh continued.
As noted by the Tampa Bay Times, the DoD has been concerned about the games’ sustainability since event space had to be built on military bases to host the events. Harbaugh told the Times that the games came in under budget thanks to Tampa’s support.
“We wanted the wounded warriors and their families to enjoy the community. And we knew when we brought it to Tampa Bay we had that," Harbaugh said in his statement to Military Times.
“Across the board, the venues were stunning, the participation of the public was amazing.”
More than 300 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans competed. The participants hailed from all four of the military branches and included athletes from five partner nations. This year’s Warrior Games featured 13 adaptive sports: archery, cycling, indoor rowing, powerlifting, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track, field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair rugby and golf.
Next year’s Warrior Games will be held in San Antonio, according to Fox 13 in Tampa.