The competitive spirit lives and breathes in the extreme athletes of the O&P Extremity Games by College Park (eX2). More than 1,500 athletes, sponsors, spectators and volunteers participated in the second annual games, which were held July 19-21 in Orlando, Fla.
The event was organized to raise awareness of and to provide a venue for people living with limb loss or limb difference to participate in extreme sports competitions. This year’s games drew 150 athletes, both returning and first-time competitors, from eight countries – doubling in size from last year in the number of participants, competitions and venues. With the number of competitions and twice as many athletes, the prizes doubled, too – with more than $45,000 in cash and other prizes up for grabs.
Athletes competed in kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing, wakeboarding, BMX biking, motocross, skateboarding and wakeboarding. Additionally, the games included both recreational and advanced events. Fifteen amputee soldiers from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq also participated in the games through the efforts of Disabled Sports USA and the Wounded Warriors Disabled Sports Project.
“The athletes and camaraderie are really what the Games are all about,” said Beth Geno, marketing manager of College Park Industries. “Many athletes come unsure of what to expect, but they leave in awe of the experience. We had a large number of returning athletes, which really tells us we’re doing what is right.”
The O&P Extremity Games is the premier event of the Extremity Events Network Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded this year to provide athletic sporting competitions for individuals living with limb loss or limb difference.
The debut of motocross got eX2 off to a roaring start on Thursday morning. Competitors gunned their engines, soared over hills and ripped around corners thrilling onlookers. On Thursday evening, waves curled and pounded as surfers from as far away as Brazil and Hawaii competed in the inaugural surfing event.
Friday featured more than 100 athletes participating in the instructional clinics with the opening ceremony that afternoon officially announcing the games’ start. The opening ceremony featured Sgt. First Class (Ret.) Dana Bowman, the first amputee member of the U.S. Army Golden Knights, and Eric Robinson, president of College Park Industries, skydiving down into the games below at the Orlando Waterpark Complex.
Winners of eX2 were announced Saturday evening at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Orlando Airport. For a complete list of the winners in each division, see the sidebar on page 42. Also, Jim Wazny received the Jeff Winfield Green Friendship Award. The award, named in honor of the late Jeff Green who worked for SPS, honored the athlete who summed up the competitive nature and goodwill of the games.
The games exceeded the expectations of organizers.
“We are definitely on mark. [We] doubled the number of competitions and registered athletes, and met our goals for eX2. The huge success and growing international interest confirms our vision – individuals living with limb loss or limb difference want an extreme sports venue in which they can compete against their peers,” Robinson said. “The athletes’ talent and abilities were awesome and blew us away. I’d like to thank everyone, the athletes, sponsors, volunteers and spectators, who helped to make eX2 a huge success.”
Plans for eX3
“We are definitely happy with the turnout and anxious to do it again at eX3,” Geno said.
As of press time, the plans for eX3 were still being developed. The Extremity Events Network hopes to announce the details in late September or early October.
For more information:
- To see more pictures and highlights of this year’s games, visit www.extremitygames.com and click “Champions from 2007.”
Kristine Houck, ELS, is the managing editor for O&P Business News.