Hurricane Fran left a lot of damage in its wake that still impacts the area today, but U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col.(ret.) Leigh Sumner, who was left partially paralyzed from a spinal cord injury during the cleanup efforts, the impact will always be with her. But, the spinal cord injury that left her partially paralyzed is not stopping her from pushing forward with her winning attitude.
DoD Warrior Games Results
The Newton Grove, North Carolina resident just competed in the DoD Warrior Games for cycling, shooting, track, and indoor rowing. She brought home four gold medals for hand cycling and rowing for the Wounded Warrior Regiment (WWR) Marine Corps team.
The DoD Warrior Games is an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. The 2019 Warrior Games consist of 13 Paralympic-style sports, and more than 300 athletes representing the U.S. Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, Special Operations Command, and five international teams.
Sumner in Action at DoD Warrior Games
Sumner’s Journey to DoD Warrior Games Gold
Sumner began pedaling a hand bike in 2015 and is a proud member of Paralyzed Veterans Racing. She had placed in a number of races, including finishing 1st place in 2015 Army Ten Miler, 3rd place in 2015 Marine Corps Marathon, and medaling at both 2016 Paracycling Nationals and 2016 National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Due to injury and surgeries, Leigh had to stop racing mid-2016. In October of 2017, Sumner started training on the Excy XCS 260 upper body ergometer to return to the sport she loves.
Using Excy Upper Body Ergometer to Train with a Spinal Cord Injury
Not only did she return to the hand cycling sport in mid-2018, she rocked it. In the Valor Games, she was the fastest female hand cyclist (3 men were faster). She continued to perform, but on August 22, while Adaptive Mountain Biking in CO, she fractured her right wrist and hand. That kept her off her handcycle for a full five weeks and significantly limited her road training for eight weeks.
But she started back on Excy as a safe, controlled upper-body workout that she could do at home. She pedaled Excy as a hand cycle while sitting on the floor or in a chair every few days as her injury healed and confidence grew. She raced the Army Ten Miler in mid-October and was the second female handcycle finisher at 50:38). She then did the Marine Corps Marathon and was the 4th female handcycle finisher at 2:29:50. Neither of those are personal records, but was pleased with the results coming off injury and with only 3 training rides on the road in 8 weeks. Excy again helped her train safely while healing from injury and supplanted her training excellently.
Sumner pedals Excy while sitting on the floor and from a chair
We are so proud of Sumner and feel privilege to be part of her amazing athletic journey. She’s already back to training to earn even more medal in more events during the 2020 DoD Warrior Games and has several other races on the schedule.