Private Dion Taka competes in wheelchair basketball against USA at the Copper Box Arena, London.
16 September 2014
After four days of competition in nine competitive sports disciplines, the Invictus Games in London have finished with the New Zealand Defence Force team taking home medals from track and field, road cycling and powerlifting events.
New Zealand’s sixth and final medal was the bronze in women’s powerlifting, won by the Navy’s Chief Petty Officer Medic Amy Baynes. It was her second of the Games – she also won a cycling bronze.
The 12-strong team were one of the smallest - and they definitely travelled the furthest - but they proved to themselves and the rest of the competition that size doesn't matter, only attitude.
"The Invictus Games is about being part of a team, about giving it a go," said Petty Officer Seaman Combat Specialist Tana Pungatara. "You just have to get in there and challenge yourself."
“Giving it a go” was a mantra for the team members. For most, the sports they competed in were not anything they had ever played before - but with a typical Kiwi attitude, each member went forward for a number of events, and set about training.
"I am proud of how quickly our team picked it up," said team coach Staff Sergeant Phil Stanbridge after the Kiwis’ wheelchair basketball victory over the Australian team, playing off for 5th and 6th places. "They had about three hours training together as a team before they played their first game of basketball at the competition. Imagine what they could have achieved with more time."
For a number of the team, the training they undertook in their own time in the brief 15 week lead-up to the Games has led to an ongoing commitment to the new sports. Particularly popular among the team were archery, cycling, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball.
The New Zealand players walked away with a silver and a bronze in shotput, two silvers in discus, a bronze in road cycling and one in powerlifting.