British Rowing Indoor Championships feature We Are Invictus competitors
Many of our Invictus Family members of international wounded injured and sick Servicemen and women are taking part in the British Rowing Indoor Championships this December, thanks to the ability to participate virtually. Utilising similar categorisation to the Invictus Games, these championships have brought together former Invictus Games competitors, alongside those preparing for the Invictus Games The Hague 2020, now set to take place in May 2021.
We spoke to some of those taking part to find out more, with Ben Gallagher, Dot Perkins and Rach Williamson from the UK, Franck Piorot from France, Dumitru Paraschiva from Romania, and Phillip Fong from the USA.
IGF: Some of you have competed in previous Invictus Games, right?
Rach: Yes, I was in the Invictus Games Sydney 2018, and I’m team captain for the UK for the Invictus Games The Hague 2020.
Ben: Not yet!
Dumitru: I competed in the Invictus Games in Toronto 2017 and Sydney 2018.
Dot: Me too.
Franck: Not yet, I’m planning to take part in the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 next year.
IGF: What’s your military background?
Ben: I served in the British Army, in the Royal Signals. I was injured through numerous gunshot wounds, and blast fragmentations to both arms, and my upper torso
Phillip: The US Navy, I contracted cerebral malaria during deployment to Africa, as well as a traumatic brain injury and I have PTSD.
Franck: I was in the French air force as an aircraft mechanic, I was injured in 2015 during an air crash, and was injured in both legs and my left arm, and I have post traumatic syndrome.
Dumitru: I’m in active service, and I have trouble hearing out of my left ear, and seeing out of my left eye, along with memory loss and dizziness. I have titanium wire in my skull helping hold everything in place.
Rach: I served in the Royal Air Force as a medic, and was medically discharged with a neurological disorder and loss of function to my right hand and arm following an RAF Rugby Training camp injury.
Dot: I was in the Royal Corp of Signals 94 – 05 and was in a road traffic accident in 2000, resulting in crushing hip and nerve damage. I was the only survivor, so everyday I think I am the lucky one.
IGF: Taking part this weekend was advertised to the community via the Invictus Games Foundation’s We Are Invictus noticeboard for all international wounded, injured or sick Service personnel and veterans. How are you finding the app?
Phillip: There’s lots of good information on there.
Dot: I think it’s a brilliant means of communication. Sure there is something on there for everyone. Not just sports, which is key for the wider community.
Dumitru: I think the noticeboard needs to be publicised more – so more people can make use of it!
Rach: I love it, I can find more opportunities available on there!
Ben: It’s great, for this reason, the Indoor Championships, but also especially with people reaching out to like-minded people and being able to share stuff.
IGF: As well as this Indoor Championships, have you taken up any other opportunities posted on We Are Invictus recently?
Rach: Yes, I’ve been doing the Invictus Rowing challenge from Sydney to The Hague, I did the Invictus 20to21 videos, and the Theatre of War performance…
Ben: I competed in the virtual 10km run on Opentrack.
Dot: I did zwift for a while, but actually stopped recently as I returned to work and I was able to commute again on my bike.
IGF: How have you been coping during lockdown?
Dumitru: I know the importance of staying active so the pandemic didn’t affect me too much, so I’d say my physical and mental health are ok.
Franck: mentally difficult during the first confinement because it was impossible to play sports and therefore to let off steam, for this second confinement I then borrowed a concept 2 from the sports department of my air base.
Dot: I’ve been Learning more about mental health to help others. Physical health wise, I’ve been good, as at work we have lots of competitive challenges to keep everyone active. All harmless fun, but also team building.
Rach: Not too bad, kept busy and probably watched too much tv. Physical and mentally dipped in the middle once boredom set in but then found chatting to family and friends often helped.
IGF: Looking ahead to the British Rowing Indoor Championships, are you taking part socially, or are you there to be as competitive as possible?
Rach: I’d say competitively but mainly for a fitness baseline in preparation for 2021.
Philip: both socially and competitively!
IGF: And how are you feeling about them?
Rach: Excited but nervous
Ben: its great we can still compete given the current circumstances.
Dumitru: I think the virtual championships are a great way to feel like someone again once again representing your country.
Phillip: a little nervous, it’s my first big competition
Franck: yeah stressed, it’s my first official competition too
Dot: Excited now, but will be sick with nerves on the day. That is a healthy sickness and completely normal. Just pleased to be doing something with everyone. Did the Scottish/Welsh ones recently too and it was very enjoyable and BRIC will be bigger and better.
IGF: Has having the championships coming up helped change anything for you, or were you already keeping active?
Ben: Yes I’ve always tried to keep active but this has helped for now and future events.
Franck: The lockdown blocked me in my momentum, so it’s been good to get active again
Dot: The initial start of my Invictus journey was the game changer for me and I’ve just tried to continue with it, with keeping active for my recovery, as I see so many benefits to my future and my kids’ future.
If you want to cheer on the international competitors taking part this weekend in the British Rowing Indoor Championships, then head here: https://www.britishrowing.org/2020/12/bric-online-day1/ Listen out for UK’s Rach Williamson, as she’s also joining the online commentating team!
If you’ve been wounded, injured, or fallen sick during or as a consequence of military service, then We Are Invictus is a platform for you.
Open to all nations, just head to www.weareinvictus.co.uk for more.