Invictus Games: Day of Action at the Track and at the Tennis
Jules: After last night I thought I would be tired, but I was surprised by how much. We did some Haka practice, had breakfast and headed out to catch a bus to support the Athletics. There were a few struggles to get transport and everything got delayed. After waiting over an hour in the heat with astronomical noise and people squashed together, I realised I had over done it. After a quick nap I woke up feeling 100% better and started the day again. There was lots of wheelchair tennis today and we were doing lots of “amazing battling”. We walked away from most matches as winners. Athletics was a mixed bag, but I found that it was 35 degrees down there so I am a wee bit glad I made the decision I did.
I go some prep done for my set up for lifting this afternoon. The powerlift is done with your feet up and strapped to the bench to cater for all competitors, so I practiced where I wanted the straps. I have also been trialling bracing versus strapping and learnt that while rowing I need both wrists strapped, lifting is best with one brace on my injured wrist as it is too unstable otherwise. This made me feel a lot more confident for tomorrow. I know the weights I should lift as well and even if I am the lifter with the lowest weight set, I know that originally I couldn’t lift the bar on its own. It can be a bit threatening when others my size lift heavy, but I have to remember that I am only competing against myself. It is far more important to be here, to be a part of this team and to do my best.
I have ordered dinner in so that I can eat and go to bed. While I have been writing my bed has been changed and dinner has arrived. Another incredible day that I am so happy to have had.
Nicki: Another sleepless night but I am getting used to them by now. My roomie has now moved in with her husband so I did not have the normal movement in the room to wake me up and I had not set an alarm. Spot the blurry eyed Kiwi peeking out her door to a Haka practice in the hall, bugger; be right there. A quick dash downstairs for breakfast and call in to the Medical Centre for sleeping pills, because this is getting past a joke now. A good night’s sleep is on the way, now I have little blue pills.
After our Haka practice, I got the lay of the land to see what everyone is doing and decided that Wheelchair Tennis was the place to be to cheer our boys on. I went and watched Steve and Daryl play and they did well. They did not win, however they gave the Netherlands a run for their money. Glen and Aaron owned their game right from the start and took it out 6-1 against the UK.
It was so hot out there and all the teams were leaving it out there on the court. Everyone can be so proud of the effort that they put in. My Canadian relatives watched the games with the Kiwi supporters and were amazed at the ability of our players. Impressing the local’s guys.
After the first round of games, I went to the gym and did a 30min ride on the bike to try and diminish the headaches and kick in the ‘feel good’ factor again. I think it helped a bit as my head is not as heavy for a while.
The weather is so hot and as much as I love hot weather, this is a little too humid for the little Kiwi girl from Dunedin. The water pressure of the showers is fantastic and there is an endless supply of towels, so no problem.
I sat on the bike in the gym and looked out towards the pool as I worked out. I was very humbled by the vision of an athlete coming out to the pool with two above knees and an above elbow amputation. It put my headaches into perspective.
The tennis games in the afternoon were hard fought by all. They guys all played well with one team losing after a hard-fought battle and the second game more of a formality. The US team that the NZ 1st team were playing fought hard, but were totally outclassed by our guys. In the true Invictus spirit I soon found myself cheering on the opposition to, ‘keep it up’, and ‘you got this’.
Our Athletics Team had to travel to York Stadium which is an hour away by bus. This is a bit hard for supporters to get there and back, because in doing so you miss so many other events.
A massive screen has been set up in the lobby of the Sheraton for us to watch our fellow team mates. Our throwers did well this morning with PB – an awesome experience for them. They did us proud. We are now sitting in the Lobby waiting for Dan’s race to begin. Go Kiwi.
Coach Ray: Another long day for me. I was up early to do some prep work for the rowing in two days time, then off to breakfast followed by the management meeting.
Almost immediately after that I went downstairs to head out to York Stadium for the athletics. It was crazy downstairs. For the training sessions at the venues there had been no transport issues, but every Olympics you hear about the transport issues they have getting athletes to venues and today was a similar experience.
Some of the athletes are to blame as they should have known when their event was and worked out which bus to get on. This information was available to all athletes, management and in fact anyone who walked through the hotel lobby could have found the information. So when I was trying to catch a later bus to York Stadium, the athletes for the first events shouldn’t have been turning up expecting to be teleported there as it was over an hour away and longer in the traffic on the Sunday morning (I’ve got no idea why there was so much traffic on a Sunday morning).
The volunteers did an amazing job, however they were never going to please everyone. The Kiwi team waited patiently with me, as the early athletes and their support staff had already left on the first buses. We allowed competitors that should have already been there to get on buses ahead of us. The volunteers recognised this and made sure we got on a minibus. Due to the traffic issues, buses were getting an unscheduled police escort like we did last night.
Our minibus with the four of us Kiwis heading out, didn’t need (nor deserve) the motorcade treatment and our driver just got us on the road. She took us a different route to avoid the traffic. As we were heading there we saw a motorcade with blacked out SUVs with flashing blue and red lights. Suspecting it was Prince Harry our driver didn’t need much encouragement to catch it up and overtake it. On looking in each of the three SUVs we couldn’t see anyone important and the limo in front of them had very dark tints on the windows and was flying a little flag with a lion and a crown on it. If I knew my royalty better I would have known that was the Governor General of Canada’s flag and not HRH. We believed we had over taken Prince Harry for about 10 minutes until the Governor General arrived at the athletics track.
The Kiwis managed to set up a wee posse on the edge of the track. Technically we should have been in the stands, but we had a small team and managed to get away with it. We were friendly to the volunteers helping them out and they didn’t mind. As the crew on the earlier bus had found themselves in this position by chance, I needed to get the rest of us there. Coincidentally the official on the gate when we arrived was the same one that Dan and I had spent 10 minutes chatting to yesterday. He remembered me and we chatted briefly again before I excused myself and carried on with the others as if we were allowed to be coming through. As everyone got used to us being there and coming and going it was barely questioned.
The temperature was intense at the track in the morning. The Apple Weather App on my phone was telling me the temp was 30 degrees and of that there was no doubt. We were sweltering. I was grateful I didn’t need to compete in that heat. We kept people in the shade and made sure they remained hydrated.
I stayed to watch a couple of our throwers in action and get a feel for how everything will operate. Unfortunately due to commitments with rowing that evening I wasn’t able to stay for Dan’s track heat, but was pleased to catch him as he left the hotel to wish him luck.
With a little bit of time up my sleeve I decided to get a short run into my day. Although I wasn’t keen to run in 30 degree heat I knew if I didn’t go now I’d run out of time to get a workout in. So I forced myself out the door and went down to the water front. I enjoyed this wee run and before I knew it I had run for 30 minutes, which was all I wanted to do. However as I had got into the zone I had run for 30 minutes away from the hotel and still needed to run back!!! I was drained by the time I got back and the sweat was pouring off me sending a mixture of salt and sunscreen into my eyes.
A cold shower and fresh clothes later I headed downstairs and was joined by other Kiwi supporters as we waited for Dan’s heat to come on the TV by the dining hall. Dan was in one of the outside lanes and had what can best be described as a non-runner in the outside lane. Big kudos to the guy for fronting up and stepping on the start line. I don’t know what he has been recovering from, but he was there and was lining up giving it an honest effort. With the staggered start around the curve of the 400m track Dan caught him up and passed him like he was standing still. Dan did this so quickly and appeared to open up a lead on everyone. The camera zoomed in only on him, and just like Dan we didn’t know how the others were doing behind him until he got to the final bend. At this point the advantage of the inside lanes showed through and three of them popped out into the final straight together and the other two left Dan behind. The great news was that this was the fastest heat and Dan’s time was comfortably fast enough to qualify him for the final.
After his race I literally had to go straight to rowing to take some of the Kiwi rowers for a training session. I allowed those that had big days today or tomorrow to have a rest day from rowing. Grabbing a late dinner, I then took a couple more rowers for a workout before sitting down with the other coaching staff and medical team to prepare plans for tomorrow which will see me at both the swimming pool for training and then at the athletics track for Dan’s 1,500m and 400m finals.
Read more about about Invictus Games through our daily updates at 7pm NZ time.