27 September 2018
Competing in the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 will be extra special for Steve Fell, because his family will be there to cheer him on as he represents his home country in his adopted country.
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.
Mr Fell will compete in wheelchair tennis, wheelchair basketball and swimming for the New Zealand Defence Force.
He was serving in the New Zealand Army in 1982 when a motorbike accident left him with a crushed pelvis. He was medically discharged four years later, moved to Australia and soon met Australian wife Colleen.
They settled in the Brisbane suburb of Mansfield, where they have a Snapon Tools franchise. The business’s truck has a lift in the floor to enable Mr Fell to reach equipment attached to the roof, which he needs because his pelvis can no longer support him standing so he is wheelchair-bound.
Mr Fell competed in the previous Invictus Games in Toronto and said it was an amazing and emotional experience.
“One of the other competitors asked how I ended up in a chair. I said, ‘Motor accident’ and he said, ‘Me too – I was in Kabul and a suicide bomber rammed our car’. He had all these dignitaries in the car, and I think he was the only survivor. Great guy.
“The guy who was the competitor of the Games, he had no legs, he had part of one arm, but won gold in rowing and did athletics – amazing.
“When he went up to get his medal he just shuffled on his bum and he had his two kids on his shoulders. That was very powerful.”
Mr Fell attended a team training camp recently at New Zealand’s Burnham Military Camp, near Christchurch, and he said it was awesome to be able to train with the team.
He is a member of a social wheelchair basketball team in Brisbane and trains each week with the Australian national junior wheelchair tennis coach but nothing beats being with the team.
“It’s just like when you join the military – there is so much comradeship. There are people from every walk of life,” he said.
Mrs Fell went to Toronto with him and this time she’ll be joined by their daughters Elizabeth, 24, Katherine, 22, and Jennifer, 20. It is something Mr Fell said would be extra special.
“It’ll be more than special to have my girls there this time. They’re my life.”
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.
Throughout the Games the team’s journey can be followed on:
NZDF Invictus Team Facebook: facebook.com/NZInvictusTeam
NZDF Invictus Team Instagram: @NZInvictusTeam
NZDF Twitter: @nzdefenceforce