Rallying cries from the crowd boost competitors to new heights at Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023
There were rallies all-around on day five of Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023, as table tennis continued and sitting volleyball got underway.
At the table tennis, Australia’s team of five gave it their all across eight tables of action and a field of 52 competitors.
Verity Sanchez smoothly progressed to the final match of the day, where her support network, which included her daughter, provided the motivation to claim silver against Israel’s Mor Mizrahi (1-2).
“My daughter is having a ball. She and I do sport together,” Sanchez explained.
“If I’m taking her to her sport or she’s coming with me to my sport, it’s our thing. To enjoy it and have her out here to enjoy it with me, it’s been so good,” she said.
Since discovering table tennis, Sanchez’ dedication to the sport knows no boundaries.
“We actually removed our dining room table and replaced it with a table tennis table,” Sanchez said.
“She (my daughter) loves it. We have a hit of an evening… a hit and a giggle,”
Sport has meant everything to me in my recovery. Without sport, I wouldn’t be here with my daughter and my family. I wouldn’t be enjoying life. I’d still be at home in pain.”
“Sport has reduced my pain, it’s given me connection in the community again and it’s shown me a whole new sport in table tennis, which is fantastic fun,” she said.
Sanchez is now taking the next step in her table tennis journey and is looking forward to experiencing the social and physical benefits of the sport.
“I’ve just joined my local competition for table tennis so I’m really looking forward to getting out for my local club and having a hit and a giggle Monday and Wednesday nights,” she said.
A novice mere months ago, Sanchez and her personal achievements at these Games in the table tennis, swimming and athletics, showcase the power of sport to support veterans on their recovery journey.
Table tennis coach, Captain Brody Hannan was proud of his entire team’s performance, but noted that Sanchez’s commitment to table tennis as well as her other sports, was a standout.
To see her score second in her division shows that no matter what age, no matter what sport, you can pick it up through the Invictus program and if you apply yourself you can improve dramatically.”
Australia’s first Invictus Games table tennis team were Karney Armstrong, Brooke Mead, Steve Richards, Stephen Lockwood and Verity Sanchez.
Also on Thursday, the sitting volleyball competition laid claim to the centre court of Dusseldorf’s Merkur Spiel-Arena where Team Australia faced Belgium and The Netherlands in the pool stages.
Sitting volleyball is one of the most popular of the Invictus Games sports. The competition is mixed-gender and can be played by competitors with and without physical disabilities.
“Seeing everyone so happy and non-judgmental is what I am enjoying most about the Games,” said competitor and Team Australia sitting volleyball captain Francine Dudfield.
Australia’s sitting volleyball team is Mark Armstrong, Craig Ball, Francine Dudfield, Xavier Green, Alex Jay, Ryan Kelly, Flight Sergeant Nathan King, Kurt Ludke, Brad Mazzaferri, Adam Slot and Colleen Swifte.
First-time Invictus Games competitor Alex Jay has enjoyed her Games experience, inspired by her fellow competitors and stories of courage and resilience. In true Aussie mateship fashion, she has found support within the Team Australia family.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect. People had said Invictus Games are high energy, lots of people, lots of noise, but everyone has been so kind,” she said.
My family and friends weren’t able to make it so everyone has come together to make sure I feel supported and I’m so appreciative of that.”
“Everyone here is so kind and compassionate. I feel really well looked after but more so I’m having so much fun. I’m just so grateful to be here.”
With two pool match wins (Aus 2 def Ned 1; Aus 2 def Bel 1), the team is back in action on Friday and will take on Georgia in their quarter final match.
The Invictus Games is an international, adaptive multi-sports competition for serving and former military personnel who have been wounded, injured or become ill during their military service. Team Australia is delivered in partnership between Invictus Australia and the Australian Defence Force, and consists of 31 competitors.
Düsseldorf is the sixth city to host the Invictus Games, following The Hague in 2022, Sydney in 2018, Toronto in 2017, Orlando in 2016 and London in 2014.
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WHERE TO WATCH
From Saturday, 9 September, all competitions of INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies can be streamed for free and without login on the German website (https://invictusgames23.de) and YouTube channel (https://youtube.com/@invictusgamesdusseldorf2023).
To keep up to date and see exclusive behind the scenes content from Team Australia’s journey make sure you are following us on all social channels.
About Invictus Australia: Invictus Australia encourages veterans and their families to connect and engage with their communities through sport. Whether participating or volunteering at grassroots level, to competing internationally at an Invictus or Warrior Games, Invictus Australia leverages the power of sport to proactively foster good health and aid in recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. Invictus Australia promotes the physical, social and emotional benefits of sport for all, and shine a light on the unique needs of younger veterans, particularly the challenges associated with transitioning from military to civilian life.
About the Invictus Games: The 2023 Invictus Games takes place from the 9th – 16th September in Dusseldorf, Germany. Invictus Australia, in partnership with the Australian Defence Force, are supporting 31 former and current serving competitors as part of Team Australia. The Invictus Games is an international adaptive sporting event for serving and former serving military personnel who have been wounded, injured or become ill during their military service. Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, is the Patron of the Invictus Games. The Games uses the healing power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and celebrate the crucial role played by family and friends.