The Invictus Games are a paralympic type sporting event that Prince Harry established for wounded, ill or injured service personnel and veterans. Although there are medals available the emphasis is on the rehabilitation journey that the athletes go through to get them to the games and beyond.
This is an interview with Team Australia member Melissa Roberts, who I had the privilege to meet at the rowing and then again at the swimming.
MR: Serving as a RAAF Firefighter since 2010 I was in a motor vehicle accident at RAAF base Tindal in 2013 and sustained traumatic brain injury, vision impairment, facial scarring and temporary paraplegia on one side.
QK: Have you been to the games previously? What events did you compete in at the 2017 Games in Toronto?
MR: This is my first time competing in the Invictus Games Track and Field (Shot put, discus, 1500M), rowing and swimming.
QK: I’m sure you had many highlights during your time in Toronto. What was your biggest personal highlight? What was your biggest challenge whilst in Toronto?
MR: Sharing the podium, gold, silver and bronze for Australia in the women’s 50M freestyle. Competing while 11 weeks pregnant hindered my performance slightly.
MR: Invictus is a very unique sporting event and with the support amongst all the competitors, winning didn’t matter.
QK: I had the privilege to meet many inspiring athletes (yourself included) during my time in Toronto and I know the athletes made plenty of bonds with other athletes and support staff as well. Did you meet someone from outside your team who had or was suffering from similar injuries and illness to yourself? How did this interaction affect you?
MR: I met a lady from Jordan suffering from severe brain damage and this interaction moved me as it highlighted how individual this type of injury is depending on the where the impact was.
QK: Athletically how did you go performance wise?
MR: Performance wise I competed adequately yet my times were way off my personal best and to meet my prior training schedule but due to the changes with pregnancy it definitely impacted my performance.
QK: Now that the games have concluded the high we all felt whilst involved with the games has dissipated. Memories of our time in Toronto are still strong. How have your results changed things for you?
MR: The Invictus Games have given me a platform to be a role model for other injured, ill or wounded current serving members to show them that anything is possible and how integral sport is to one’s rehabilitation.
QK: What are you preparing for next? Any big goals you are in a position to share?
MR: I will be taking the next step in my adult life and becoming a mother next April as well as getting married.
QK: What is a quote that keeps you motivated and inspired to achieve?
MR: A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever.
Thanks for your service and the inspiration you have provided myself (and no doubt many other people). It’s an honour to have met you.