Invictus Games: A Very Busy Couple Of Day’s – Here Is What The Team Has Been Up To

It has been a busy few days and this is a bit of a catch up. It’s closing in on 1am and I haven’t written my section yet but in summary I’ve been really stoked with how everyone has been going. The rowers gave it their all and as a result we came away with some medals: Craig Gold x2; Dan Silver and Bronze (to go with his two Bronze from the athletics track); Glenn a Silver (to go with his Silver from the Tennis) and Al Bronze.

That whole night went really well and I was left on a massive high. That is the feeling I live for as a coach and I can’t wait to do it all again.

Jules:   The day finished at midnight with my last row at 2300. I wasn’t able to write as I was too tired althought buzzing. This was a great way to end the day. The mens lifting was in the morning. We have some really strong lifters, so I was looking forward to watching them.

As I watched I learnt a lot. These guys are well muscled and driven, but even they sometimes have a ” no lift”. The best thing I learnt though was their ability to focus.

My rowing went well with a PB in the 4 minute row and I gave everything I had in the 1 minute. I used all I have learnt and was not concerned about the lights, cameras or noise this time. I think I am learning how to compete. The team was incredible last night. They gave their all and were ALL successful. Everyone ” emptied the tank”. Some even gained medals! We all gained so much from this experience. Such unity, even in competition.

Today was a rest day for me, but busy with archery and wheelchair rugby. We had three games but the best was against the Canadians.

There were two great sights. The haka from the wheelchairs gave me goosebumps! A great game. We were on form.

The other sight was both teams in a photo on the court after the game. It is such an unusual sight, but that is how it is here.

Tomorrow I have swimming. I am tired but prepared. I am looking forward to getting in there and doing it.

We make so much noise with our support. I hope it will be quiet in the water?

Nicki:   Nicki got this through to me for publishing but I haven’t had a chance to do anything with it until now due to being busy.

Day Eleven: What a day for Kiwis. I started the day off with a swim at the pool and it was just me, Ray and one of the Sisters with Dolly (Medical Kit).

On the way out on the bus I had been listening to music and saying, ‘It’s only Moana Pool’, over and over in my head (Moana Pool is the pool in my home town Dunedin).

We got there early and we claimed one the two far lanes which were free. The Danish had the outside lane but while I was getting changed Ray asked  them to swap, so I could hold onto the side if need be.  They were so nice to agree.

Goals of the session were to do 50m with one stop if needed and then work up to doing 50m without stopping.  Ray helped me onto the starting block, (still a bit dizzy) and gave me an ‘on your marks, Go’.

I dived into the pool and started swimming as fast as I can all the way to the end. Tick, end goal done first – can I go now?

Spot the Kiwi gasping for air, unable to talk and with the blue lips – but I did it!!! Sorry Ray I left you hanging there for a while as I tried to catch my breath and thanked Morton the Danish swimmer who gave up his lane for me and then ‘stood’ at the end of the pool clapping me in at the end of my 50m.

Invictus Games
Nicki chatting with Morton a Danish swimmer at the end of training.

After I recovered I then swum back to halfway, had a ‘catch of the breath’ stop and swum the last half before recovering.

We then decided to practice the starts and I did two of those before swimming (in stages) to the end and back.   Yep, that was me, toast.

Before I got out of the pool Ray got me to go over to the Danish swimmer, Morton, who gave up his lane and clapped me in, for a photo. Morton then went and got a couple of pins for me.  Lucky I had some ‘swaps’ in my bag.  I gave him a coin, pin and band.  I am very appreciative for all the help and encouragement I get.

Invictus Games
Kiwi and Danish Swim Teams, Jackie (NZ Nurse), Coach Ray, Martin (Danish Swimmer), Danish Coach, Nicki, Morton (Danish Swimmer)

After changing and on the way out  we met up with the team again (did not recognise them, with their clothes on, lol) and we got a group photo. Morton mentioned my Kiwi in my bag, (his head is sticking out) so I gave him one of my swaps I had just put in this morning.

That was my personal highlight but the Kiwis had many highlights today whoop whoop.  Dan got a bronze in the 1,500m race at the athletics track. He also got a bronze in the 400m race and made the final in the Discus. We didn’t make it out to the Athletic Centre but cheered in the Sheraton Lobby big time.

Then we headed across the road to watch Gibbo and Glenn win their semi-final. I was a bit late getting there and normally walk straight around to sit behind the players, as I have been doing all week. “No”, they said “sorry it is for family only”. ‘Oh, ok but I have been there every game? Never mind I will go sit with the other supporters on the other side’. It was not until I was there that I realised there was a red haired gentleman there, with his long dark-haired girlfriend holding his hand.

I thought the protocol person was a bit over the top for Glenn and Gibbo. Ok better planning for the final game – go over and help with warm up so we are there cheering them all on and go through as a team to take up the positions behind the team. After a very hard fought fight by both teams, the Kiwis had to settle for silver, however they played well. The Invictus Haka was put down for them when they finished the game as both Glenn and Gibbo had left it all on the court. Silver medal.

After that it was a very quick ride over to the power lifting, where I found Charlene and got the results for the Women’s Lightweight category.  Our competitors were not so lucky. Moving up a weight category, to Medium with the two NZ competitors, we saw that one play out. First of all well done to all the girls who took part in this category.  You did yourself proud just getting there. The whole coopetition was about doing your best on the night and the spectators were cheering on all competitors to lift those weights no matter what country it was. That is Invictus!! But I am pleased to announce that after a hard fought battle Vanessa Bawden-Pere brought home our first Gold Medal.

Medal Table: Bronze 2, Silver 1, Gold 1

Tomorrow will be a busy day with a late night. Archery, first thing; fitted with bow, arrows etc – practice and then we have rowing late that night.  At 1900hrs a 4min row and at  2305hrs a 1min row. Qualifying early the next day for archery as well.

On that note it is a good night from me and ONWARDS and UPWARDS for tomorrow.

Day Twelve and Thirteen.  Sorry I have missed a day but wow what a crazy couple of days.

Oh my God, I have experienced my first time on an international stage and the rowing venture. There was a very nervous Kiwi going to the event! Thank you to all the support from team mates and coaches who got me on the rower for the 4 min row. I rowed my lung out (I do everything on lung capacity) and went as hard as I could for the four minutes. I finished 3rd in our group of rowers and was over 200m behind the winner.  However I rowed to the best of my ability and gave it all.

I would like to say another big thank you to my relatives who came out to watch me row and had a cool sign. I was not considering the crowd before my event and did not see them after the event as I was too busy trying to breath the oxygen into my lungs again – sorry.  I was recovered enough after the 1 min row to give them a wave, even if we were on different machines on the other side of the room.

The Kiwis did fantastic at the rowing and we did two Hakas for the Gold medals that were won by Craig.   Al, Glen, and Dan also brought home medals and a fantastic night was had by all.

The atmosphere was amazing, my family were buzzing and loved every minute even if it was so late. Prince Harry arrived to watch some races and present a medal, but was off again very quickly. I have still not met the dude but as I have said before, the guy who has more respect in my book, Willy Apiata, gave me a massive hug and said he was so proud of me. That is so much better then any Prince in my book – Chur.

I walked back to the hotel from the MAC Centre and am so glad I was with teammates that knew where they were going, via the 7/11.  There was hardly any food for the rowers at the centre and by the time we got back to the hotel we were starving. Midnight snack run.

Invictus Games
Photo Credit: New Zealand Fence Force

Yesterday, after what seemed like a very short sleep, it was hurry up and get ready for Archery. The Kiwi team of five, headed out to Fort York to shoot off. I am in the Novice Re-curve, as I only took up the sport last December. Being in that category we were all given the same gear and tuition. Gear yep, tuition no. I had taken my bow and arrows back five times to be fixed or replaced – not a good start.

The Kiwi team did not have a coach and I was setting everything up the way I had been shown and taught by my coaches in Dunedin but could not understand why I was hitting the back board? It was after the fifth time of trying to get things fixed, 3  1/2 hours later, that I started to lose it a little (ie, sob uncontrollably). An Australian contestant came over and showed me what was wrong and what I needed to ask to get it fixed. Took 1min to sort out something that took 3 ½ hours to verify.

Invictus Games
Photo Credit: New Zealand Fence Force

By the time I had this done, I managed two ends before I called it a day. I was knackered, had a sore shoulder and had lost the will to live. Well it was not that bad but I called it a day. I would try to get it all sorted today – yeah did ok.

I finished 6th on the first round and are through to the next round tomorrow but then again, I think all the female novice re-curve archers are. Will see how we go as I think there are three Kiwis through to the next round.
There were some very trying and changing conditions out there today. I need to get some sleep.  Rock on tomorrow. Onwards and Upwards.


Read more about about the Invictus Games through our daily updates at 7pm NZ time.


Main Image Photo Credit: New Zealand Defence Force

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