Dozens of Tampa based veterans train for Warrior Games Challenge in California

A squad of 40 athletes based in Tampa is training for the Department of Defense Warrior Games Challenge, which will be held in California in early June. 

The team is from US Special Operations Command, which will compete against teams from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego beginning June 2.

This year’s games are scaled back from the events previously held in Tampa in 2019, which drew thousands of spectators. Crowds will be smaller, because this year’s games will be held on a military base. 

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Erik Lewis, who retired from the Army, is competing for a spot on the team. He says it helps him recover from wounds suffered on the battlefield in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

"This is one of the best healing events that I’ve been through," Lewis said. "Just to be able to compete and challenge yourself and work side by side with these competitors in a great opportunity."

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The games in San Diego will feature more than 200 competitors in 11 different adaptive sports. Lauren Montoya, who was wounded in Afghanistan, recently retired from the Army. She said being on the team helps her continue her recovery.

"You are seeing people who do these things," she said, "pushing their minds and bodies past these obstacles that were given to them."