Qwik-View: Invictus Athlete Brenda McPeak (Canada)

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 Canada athlete Brenda McPeak, whom I had the privilege to meet at the athletics then again at the rowing.

QK: What is your service background and history? What are the big challenges that you have overcome to get you to this point in your career and into the games?

BMI joined the reserves in 1994 in the infantry. I transferred to air defence in 1999 and then joined the regular force in 2000 as an MSE Op (Mobile Support Equipment Operator).

I was injured in 2011. I had four bulging discs and one was pressing on a nerve. They attributed my injury to having occurred due to my job of heavy lifting over a period of time.  In 2012 I was posted to the Joint Personal Support Unit (for injured soldiers).  From there I worked my butt off to save my career by working on my strength, including strengthening my core. In 2014 I was promoted to my current rank of Sergeant and posted back to regular service. I put my name in for the Invictus Games in the fall of 2016 and was chosen in December of that year to be on the team.

Brenda playing Sledge Hockey

QK: Have you been to the games previously? What events did you compete in at the 2017 Games in Toronto?

BM: Toronto was my first games. I competed in athletics – shot put, discus, 1500m and anchored the 4x100m relay team last minute. I also competed in indoor rowing both the 4 and 1 min sprint and I was also chosen to play sledge hockey for a day.

Brenda (draped in the Canadian flag) and other athletes including last weeks Qwik View interviewee Melissa Roberts (far left with towel draped over her shoulders) supporting the final runner in the 1,500m

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?

BM: The highlight was meeting so many people from all the different countries, hearing their stories and building friendships.  The biggest challenge was competing against such high calibre athletes.

QK: Whilst at the games I found that I witnessed so many inspirational moments.  What did you find most inspiring about the games?

BM: Most inspiring for me was to see no one quit. Some struggled to finish events that they competed in, but they never quit.  The crowds cheered more for them than they did those who came in first place. That was moving.

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?

BM: Similar injuries no. But I have met many that instilled in me a better attitude when approaching new things. The word can’t will no longer be in my vocabulary when you have guys like Mark Ormond competing as a triple amputee. If someone with injuries like him can try anything so can I!!

QK: Athletically how did you go performance wise?

BM: I did not do as well as I had hoped, but I am proud of my performances. In the 1500m I came in 5th place just narrowly being edged out by my fellow Canadian for 4th.

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?

BM: During my training for my events I had two major injuries where my training fell due to medical advice. I feel that if I didn’t have to overcome those obstacles I may have had a better performance. Now that the games are done, I am working toward improving my times and my skills one day at a time.

QK: What are you preparing for next? Any big goals you are in a position to share?

BM: I have made a few goals for 2018. I have submitted my application for the next Invictus Games. I have also signed up for my first half marathon and want to go back to Washington to complete the full marathon. Until then I will be competing in various 5, 10 and 15 km races.

QK: What is a quote that keeps you motivated and inspired to achieve?

BM: I’ll have to think about this a bit and get back to you on a quote. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is “run like a girl”.

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.


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