I Am Kiwi

Invictus Games Team Concentration Day One

Yesterday was the first day of the Team Concentration. The majority of athletes travelled to Auckland meeting up at the RNZAF Base Whenuapai for lunch. Here are what Nicki, Jules and Coach Ray got up to.

Nicki: Invictus Games 2017 Blog: Final Camp: Day One.

After a very early start this morning getting ready to catch flights from Dunedin to Auckland, via Wellington, I arrived in the city of sails. It was a lovely fine day in Auckland and as per usual I had over-dressed coming from Dunedin. I was the first to arrive and being from the Deep South was the only one on that flight. Spot the lone Southerner, waiting for the others to arrive. I missed the transport pick up times emailed to us, but figured someone would be there eventually. It was so great to see everyone arrive and catch up with them all again.

Invictus Games team and Fulton Hogan staff after the Wheel Chair Basketball Game. CREDIT: New Zealand Defence Force

After getting out to Whenuapai and were given our tracksuits and other team gear.  We were issued our room keys where we had to change into our new ‘uniform’ before reporting back to the WO’s & SNCO’s (Warrant Officer and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers) Mess.

Once we were changed into our uniforms and back at the Mess, we were informed that the team were going to be fitted out into ‘Official Invictus Blazers’, that were going to be embroidered and stored away for us (not needed in Canada). Very flash.

The basketball wheelchairs were packed into a van and we headed over to Narrow Neck to play/watch the Invictus Wheelchair Basketball Team, play our sponsors Fulton Hogan.

Invictus GamesIt was great to see how far the Invictus Team has come and working together so well. It is brilliant to see all the help and support we are getting from our sponsors, with their time, effort and help with funding.  It is much appreciated. We would not be here or able to do the things we do, without them.  A huge thank you.

The behind the scene work that our Managers, Coaches and support staff do is also very much appreciated by all members of the team and friends and families. One of our team members Dave has also organised a deal for us from ‘Antics’, the soft toy distributes here in Auckland for soft toy Kiwis. A group of us called into the factory on the way back to base and we now have the cutest little Kiwis for swaps in Canada. These fellows are going to be in high demand, I can see it. It was well worth the detour. Bring on day two of Final Camp.

Jules: Yesterday the team met at RNZAF Base Whenuapai for a concentration period before flying out to Toronto on Monday. One of the first things that struck me was how much I had been looking forward to catching up with everybody as it has been three months since our last training camp. As we all arrived we were given all given a bag full of our new kit for the games. This was the first time we had seen it and it looks amazing.

We have incredible sponsors who have given so much to support us. They are unbelievably generous. I don’t know what we would do without them. I was surprised how much it means to see all your gear labelled with “New Zealand”. I am incredibly proud to wear it.

Invictus Games
Training at home on my old rower. Not a Concept 2, but gives me one more workout during the weekend.
( The goofy look on my face is due to my husband giving me cheek)!

In the afternoon there was a game of wheelchair basketball with our sponsors. It was a good opportunity to mesh back together as a team. I have been feeling ill-prepared and that I haven’t trained enough. This seems to be a common thread amongst us. I was assured by one of our coaches that this is how everyone feels, no matter how much prep you have done. Good to know! I know when I look back over the last year of training there have been many emotions. Some days I felt I could conquer the world, other days I was so frustrated and just couldn’t get it right. Progress is never steady, it seems to come in spurts. There are long lulls and then the joy of hitting a target that had seemed so impossible to meet. That feeling can keep me buzzing for days.

It is wonderful to be able to feel successful in fitness after being unable to train for so long. There are many new experiences that I once would have shied from. I am now adopting a philosophy of “just do it”! I want to stretch my comfort zone and live every part of this experience, no matter how scary or threatening the circumstance may seem. There have been times, particularly in the last few days that I have felt “swamped” with how huge this event is. A quick session at the gym before tea, helped me focus. Just training as usual, with good music, keeps me feeling grounded.

When I think about how much my life has changed and all the experiences to come, I also feel incredibly grateful. I will try to remember this the next time I “hit the wall” (at about the 3 minute mark) on the 4 minute endurance row! I am looking forward to swim training tomorrow and a power lifting session. Hopefully I can learn a few last tips.

I Am KiwiCoach Ray:  I arrived the day before with the rest of the management and support staff.  We set up everything prior to the athletes arriving at lunch time. After lunch we headed to the Royal New Zealand Navy base at Narrow Neck for some interviews with News Hub (TV Three) and a game of Wheelchair Basketball against some of the team sponsors and a team photo. Although I was lined up to possibly do an interview with News Hub I (thankfully) wasn’t needed.

A qwik bite to eat for dinner and then it was time to get busy sorting out a pile of branded swag for all team members caps, buttons, wrist bands and challenge coins, as well as swim caps for the swimmers. After checking everyone’s passport and travel details and making sure all their travel administration was in order I relaxed with a beer. Saturday is an early start with a session for the swimmers prior to breakfast with the Minister of Veteran affairs.

Follow the Invictus Journey of Jules, Nicki and Coach Ray here:



One Reply to “Invictus Games Team Concentration Day One”

  1. Hi coach Ray … challenge coin … I would love to purchase ine if they are available for general public … been a keen collector or NZ challenge coins for some years now … even one that don’t mention NZ but still show our flag … keeping my fingers crossed

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