Quentin Batalillon

General News 2024

DVIDS – News – Anyone who wants to try an adaptive sport should do so!

ORLANDO, Fla., June 26, 2024 — Retired Army Spc. Michael Villagran did not easily reach his second Warrior Games on Team Army. He chose adaptive sports to recover after losing his right leg a few years ago.

“It wasn’t easy; it took me some time to get used to it, but over time I just kept doing things in life and doing adaptive sports over and over again, you know, repetition, and it made everything better,” the infantryman said.

Villagran’s life changed forever during a deployment in 2012. “I stepped on a bomb on a roof in Afghanistan,” he said. “Then I was sent to Germany, then to Fort Liberty (North Carolina), where I had multiple surgeries to save my leg. I was on limb rescue for four years.”

The limb rescue was not fruitful, so he made a big decision. “It was a choice, but there was nothing more they could do for me in terms of treatment, so it was either take some painkillers every day forever or amputate my leg,” Villagran explains. “For me that was an easy choice.”

Watching Villagran compete in the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games, in everything from wheelchair rugby to sitting volleyball, cycling, cyclo-cross and more, is like reading a road map to resilience. “It wasn’t something that happened right away. “Whether you play rugby on a chair or play volleyball on the floor, it is hard work and therapy. It takes time and practice, and I’ve mastered it now,” he said with a big smile.

He’s certainly mastered it, and his fire is fueled by a previous Warrior Games competition that stuck with him and has him doing a victory dance. “I feel great about these games!” Villagran said. “I’m still thrilled about our first ever win in (wheelchair) rugby recently. I was here in 2022 and we were in the same medal round but lost to SOCOM, so coming back here to finish what we started was a great feeling for me!”

He hopes others can get that wonderful feeling when faced with a medical change in their lives. “Anyone who wants to try an adaptive sport should do so!” he added. “Go out and look for information in town or at the VA. You never know what you like until you try it, and you can’t be afraid: you have to do it!”

The father of three daughters says they are an excellent support team for him and he hopes they only see a positive path forward. “My kids love it and I hope I can inspire them too; by showing them seeing their dad do it,” he said. “Just because Dad is missing a leg doesn’t mean he can’t be an athlete here. I can and will continue to do the sports I love, but in an adapted way.”

Villagran is excited to represent the U.S. at the first-ever Invictus Winter Games in Canada next year, where he knows he will compete in skeleton (bobsleigh). “I’ve been doing that for five years, so I’m excited,” Villagran said. “In any way I can represent the country I live in!”

Being with like-minded athletes is also a huge win for Villagran. As for this year’s Team Army, he acknowledges their hard work and how far they’ve come.

“I haven’t seen a team like this in a long time,” Villagran said. “I am impressed with these great athletes and look forward to giving these other properties a run for their money.”

Date taken: 27.06.2024
Date posted: 06/27/2024 00:56
Story ID: 474914

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