Members of the NZDF Invictus Games team at a wheelchair rugby practice.
14 September 2017
A New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) team of 24 athletes leaves for Canada next week to compete at the 2017 Invictus Games following a year of training.
The Invictus Games is the only international adaptive sporting event for wounded, injured and ill active duty and veteran service members. This year’s event, in Toronto from 23-30 September, will be the largest yet, with 550 ill and injured servicemen and women from 17 allied nations competing in 12 adaptive sporting events.
NZDF team vice-captain Flight Lieutenant Jules Gilligan said the training had been stepped up in the past few months and a deeper understanding of the Invictus Games journey had also come to light.
“The courage of the people who are Invictus, and their Invictus spirit, has made such a big difference to my perspective of this journey,” Flight Lieutenant Gilligan said.
“My vision and outlook have changed, particularly recently. I have learnt a lot in the past year since joining the Invictus family.”
After dealing with breast cancer and suffering a severe wrist injury, she is looking forward to representing the NZDF overseas.
“Invictus for me is about challenging the circumstances life has given and adapting my life and overcoming it. It is about stepping out and taking the risks needed to move forward,” she said.
Adaptive sport allows those who have been wounded, injured or ill as part of their service to our country to look forward and focus on the possibilities.
Flight Lieutenant Gilligan said she was looking forward to meeting other competitors and learning about their journeys.
“I am really looking forward to seeing others’ courage and their Invictus spirit, as well as opening new networks and building friendships,” she said.
“The opportunity to represent my Defence Force and my country are huge honours. I am humbled to be given a place and I want to take away all I can from the Invictus experience to shape the rest of my life.”
The NZDF team is sponsored by the Auckland RSA, Christchurch Memorial RSA, Fulton Hogan, BLK and Offlimits Trust.