21 September 2018
Palmerston North man Matt Vangioni is counting down until the middle of next month, when he’ll compete in the “mindblowing” Invictus Games Sydney 2018.
The Games are the only international adaptive sporting event for wounded, injured or ill current and former servicemen and women. This year’s event, in Sydney from 20-27 October, will involve competitors from 18 allied nations in 11 different adaptive sports. The NZDF is sending a team of 24.
New Zealand Army Lance Corporal Vangioni will be representing the New Zealand Defence Force for the second time, having competed in the previous Invictus Games, in Toronto.
He says the experience was both mindblowing and humbling.
“Just seeing the level of injuries people have had who are competing, and how everyone is still going and giving it everything. They’re not sitting back and feeling sorry for themselves.
“You see people go out there minus a number of limbs, and they’re just giving it everything they’ve got. That rehabilitation through sport just speaks volumes.”
Lance Corporal Vangioni, who was shot in the ankle while on deployment in Afghanistan, grew up in Palmerston North and attended St James’ Primary School and St Peter’s High School. His mother Val still lives in Palmerston North, as do a brother and a sister.
He returned to his home town with wife Kat about two years ago to raise their toddler son Thomas, named for Lance Corporal Vangioni’s late father Tom.
The move followed his injury, which he said made him sit back and reprioritise.
“I had a good look at what I was doing, where I was tracking and what I wanted to take out of life.”
He was into sport and loved having a go before being injured, and being part of the NZDF Invictus Games team has opened that up to him again.
“It’s just really good being back in sport and being in a team environment. One thing I do miss from before being injured is playing team sports,” he said.
He will compete in the 100m and 200m sprints, long jump and discus, as well as wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby at the Sydney Games.
This year’s Invictus Games are being presented by Jaguar Land Rover. The NZDF team is sponsored by Auckland RSA, Christchurch Memorial RSA, Fulton Hogan, Jaguar Land Rover and Direct Sport.