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New sport, new outlook

Powerlifing has brought purpose back to Gabriel Ramon’s life.

In 2017, during a field training exercise, The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airfield Defence Guard ruptured the ACL in his right knee. Complications ensued, including chronic tears of the medial and lateral meniscus.

The permanent injury has taken its toll and the impact is more than physical.

“Sport has always been a focus for me,” Gabriel said.

“In my downtime sport and outdoors were embedded in my lifestyle.”

Before a four-year stint in the RAAF, Gabriel pursued a career as a rugby league player and spent time in China where he advanced his mixed martial arts skills. He also operated a strength and conditioning gym.

With a deteriorating knee injury, Gabriel has been restricted from participating in the sports he once enjoyed.

A chance encounter with an Invictus Australia (previously known as Veteran Sport Australia) Veteran Engagement Specialist changed Gabriel’s outlook.

Rachel Kerrigan meet Gabriel at an ADF transition day. Rachel is herself a veteran who has found solace through sport.

“He didn’t think he could do the sports he was interested in, as he could no longer run, squat or move the way he used to,” Rachel said.

“I discovered Gabriel did lifting in the gym and had quite an incredible (bench) press for the amount of training he had done.

“He’s since applied to the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 and he has a goal to see where powerlifting can take him,” she said.

With a new sport to focus on, Gabriel’s life has changed for the better.

“It has given me an opportunity to compete again,” he said.

“Invictus Australia has given me the platform to apply myself again to a competitive sport, which has helped me stay motivated and goal orientated.”

Rachel said the intervention had been simple but effective.

“We connected Gabriel with local coaches, to help him gain that sense of purpose and focus again.

“We will continue to work closely with Gabriel over the next few months, to make sure it’s working for him, and who knows how far he may take it. Importantly, he’s now in a really positive space.”

Gabriel said the biggest hurdle for veterans with sustained injuries was accepting a new reality.

“Understanding that these are injuries for life, but it is possible to find something that motivates you, and work towards,” he said.

If you or someone you know is seeking a new outlook like Gabriel, Invictus Australia can help.

Our team supports veterans and their families by connecting you to sport and recreation development opportunities.