Invictus Games 2017
The third Invictus Games was held during the final week of September in Toronto, Canada. Team UK, which was captained by a Blesma Member, heralded the event as the most successful and enjoyable yet.
“The Games were run outstandingly well,” said Team UK captain Bernie Broad, a former Major with the Grenadier Guards, who lost both his legs below the knee in 2009. “Even the police gave us escorts to make sure we were on time! The organisers rose to the challenge, and so did our squad.”
Bernie stresses that while the Brits won an impressive 87 medals (26 gold, 34 silver and 27 bronze), achievement at Invictus must be measured in more than just metal. “Sixty two per cent of our squad members were new to this year’s Invictus Games, so we stressed that every individual needed personal expectations for each event, so as not to get disappointed by a particular result,” said Bernie. “Getting the most out of the Games on a personal level was as important as the performance.”
Bigger and better than ever
The Games themselves were bigger than ever, with 550 competitors from 17 nations competing in an expanded programme of 12 sports. And Blesma athletes were never far away from the heart of the action. The UK captain enjoyed spectating as well as participating, and got to spend a lot of time with Invictus founder Prince Harry. “I loved the golf, which I’d have won by five shots if they’d counted the practice round!” laughed Bernie, “and I competed in the swimming, which was hard, and the wheelchair rugby, which was great fun.
“And Prince Harry was so impressive! He was focused on looking after the families and friends of athletes. He had so much time to listen to their stories. He’s a brilliant man, and 100 per cent committed to supporting our veterans.”
And the Games were very special for Bernie on a personal level. “Being captain was a tremendous honour, and I proved to myself that I could lead. The atmosphere among the team was excellent – I absorbed all the energy from our athletes and it’s really given me confidence.”
David Scott, a former Army Major in the Army Physical Training Corps, also had a great time.
“It was a phenomenal experience. The Canadians lifted the Invictus Games to the next level. Everyone was in one hotel, so I imagine it was a bit like being in the Olympic Village. That made the experience even better, because we had a brilliant time Fact-finding mission Chadwell Heath staff visit a Limb Centre mixing with athletes from other countries, both socially and competitively.”
And David scooped gold in the golf. “The course was incredible, the crowds fantastic, and to win was unbelievable,” he said. “Blesma have been very good for me and helped me get into disabled golf, so they can take some of the credit!”
David believes that sport has given him a new focus in life. “Competing at Invictus has brought back the camaraderie and the competitive edge, that military mindset,” he said. “Playing sport and competing have given me a focus, and that’s really important psychologically.
Sport can develop people so much, especially those who might have mental injuries as well as physical ones. There is nothing else like Invictus!
Charmaine Healy is testament to this. She won a silver medal in powerlifting and a bronze in wheelchair basketball, and is living proof that the Invictus Games can make a real difference. Having suffered with PTSD, anxiety and depression, the Games have given her a real boost. “The whole thing was out of this world,” she said. “I loved the sports, but the main benefit was how it helped to build up my confidence again. I usually struggle with crowds, and at Invictus we were around a lot of people all the time. I was nervous and had to push through my comfort zone. It did me a lot of good. It was amazing!”
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