From Invictus to the Paralympics – international competitors on the podium
International Invictus Games competitors recently took part in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, with successful results that meant that if the Invictus Games alumni formed a country, they would have taken 21st position in the medal table!
Elite sport is not necessarily where Invictus Games competitors aim for post-Games, as the intent for the Games is to use sport to recalibrate their lives post-injury or illness, and provide support for their onward recovery and rehabilitation. This could include re-engaging with their family or communities, or seeking employment – (click here to: Register for IGF Conversation on November 3rd on this topic).
Nonetheless, there are a few competitors that have successfully made the transition to the Paralympics after using sport to recover from their injuries or illnesses sustained during Service. These include Jaco Van Gass, (two Golds and one Bronze) for Team GB Cycling, Ellie Marks (one Gold, Silver and Bronze) for Team USA Swimming, and Curtis McGrath (two Golds) for Team Australia Canoe. Jaco and Ellie also saw their Paralympics achievements also include new World Records!
In speaking to Jaco Van Gass following the Paralympics, he said, “Sport has always played a huge part in my life. Since a young boy I found solace in sport, to help me clear my head and create an open mind. Even more so after losing my arm in Afghanistan, sport played a massive role in my recovery both mentally and physically.
Having had the wonderful opportunity to be part of and partake in both the inaugural Invictus Games in London 2014 and Orlando 2016, I came away from both Games with more experience and more confidence to perform at a high level and with big crowds cheering you on. This would serve me well later on in my professional athlete career.
It is a great honour to be part of a very unique community like the veteran community. The bond and support towards each other is very strong and we empower each other.”
Other Games alumni who successfully made the transition to the Paralympics include Britons Micky Yule, of 2014 and 2016, who took Bronze in the powerlifting and Stu Robinson, who took Gold in the Wheelchair Rugby final for Team GB.
From the USA, Brad Snyder (Invictus Games Toronto 2017) took Gold in the triathlon – after medalling in Swimming at previous Paralympics including taking a world record in Rio in the 100m Freestyle. Also from the USA, Ryan Pinney (who took part in the Invictus Games London, Orlando and Sydney) took Bronze in the mixed team trials for cycling.
From France, Rémy Boulle who competed in the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 took two Bronze medals at the Paralympics in Canoe sprint.
Eugen Patru, from team Romania, who took part in the Invictus Games Toronto and Sydney, also competed in Tokyo in Archery coming 16th out of 31.
In the upcoming Invictus Games The Hague 2020, there won’t be a medal table, but rather we will be celebrating how the 500 competitors from 20 nations have made it to start line, and we look forward to witnessing another Games filled with personal bests and personal achievements.
Whilst the Invictus Games are all about the power of sport for recovery, the Paralympics further serves to demonstrate the power of sport in showcasing human excellence. However, there is a lot to achieve in ensuring that the lives of those with disability aren’t only seen and heard about during sporting tournaments. The Invictus Games Foundation have joined with the Paralympics, the Special Olympics and the Deaf Olympics to ensure a regular drumbeat of activity to highlight the disparity in support for those with disabilities over the next ten years as part of the WeThe15 campaign.
Join the campaign and take a look here for more information: www.wethe15.org/