The Invictus Games have given former New Zealand Army soldier Allister Baker a sense of direction and purpose.
4 September 2017
Former Golden Bay man Allister Baker will compete this month in his second Invictus Games, as part of a 25-strong New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) team heading to Toronto, Canada.
Mr Baker, a former New Zealand Army soldier, will compete in indoor rowing, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby at the Games, the only international adaptive sporting event for wounded, injured and ill active duty and veteran service members.
He left the Army at the start of this year and the Games have been his main focus since.
He said he had never been happier with his physical condition and goals.
“Invictus has given me a new-found motivation in life and I finally feel a sense of direction and purpose,” he said. “I know where I’m going and I know what I want.
“After the last Games I have found what I enjoy – adrenaline sports. I love to get out there and push my body to its maximum.”
Mr Baker, who grew up in Golden Bay, was injured by an improvised explosive device in 2010, while serving in Afghanistan. The explosion shattered his left heel and he also received burns to his upper left arm. He was awarded the New Zealand Gallantry Decoration following his return home.
“Invictus has allowed me to bring so many new people into my life, from both the Invictus community and the disabled community,” he said.
“I started training with the Canterbury Wheelchair Rugby team initially, to upskill for Invictus. However, they then asked me to compete with them in the 2017 Wheelchair Rugby Competition. This was a great honour and I got my first taste of victory when we took out the championship.
“I have set my sights on gold in Toronto, but no matter what happens I know I am ready for this and I will walk away with no regrets.”
The NZDF team is sponsored by the Auckland RSA, Christchurch Memorial RSA, Fulton Hogan, BLK and Offlimits Trust.
Throughout the Games the team’s journey can be followed on:
NZDF Invictus Team Facebook: facebook.com/InvictusGamesNZ
NZDF Invictus Team Instagram: @nzdfinvictusteam
NZDF Twitter: @nzdefenceforce