Touching moments on and off court as Australia face Ukraine in wheelchair basketball
The second day of wheelchair basketball competition brought with it plenty of action both on and off court as competitors of all nations, and the crowd, embraced the Invictus spirit.
At the wheelchair basketball, fierce yet friendly was the aim of the game and everyone on court achieved just that.
The Aussies faced two tough opponents in Great Britain and Ukraine and battled to the final buzzer but ultimately went down 13-7 to Team GB and 8-6 to Team Ukraine.
With such a joyous crowd supporting both teams, the Aussies finished the competition filled with pride as they congratulated fellow competitors from Team Ukraine.
Families and friends of Team Australia and Team Ukraine at Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023.
Team Australia competitor Colleen Swifte said the Aussies wanted to honour the sport and honour their Ukrainian opponents.
“It’s amazing that they’re here, at all. Able to leave their families and everyone behind to be here. To see people who have been injured quite recently and are here already on their journey of recovery, it’s pretty amazing to play against them and be part of their journey.”
“We were out there to have fun, but win and really give them a good competition. It was a really good game, it was exciting to watch and good to play too,” she said.
James Barker from Team Invictus Australia competes at Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023.
For all the friendliness at these Games, there is also a mutual respect and healthy rivalry between the nations.
“Every one of us, we’re competitors at heart so when we’re on the court, when we’re on the field, when we’re on our bikes, we are being competitive,” Swifte said.
Colleen Swifte is pictured in the background as Lenny Redrose embraces his opponent from Team Ukraine.
“All our passion is there. But as soon as the whistle blows where you cross the line, there’s hugs and friendships there’s that universality of being a soldier where you just connect immediately.”
In-between a busy day of sporting commitments, Team Invictus Australia competitors gifted Invictus Games Foundation Patron, Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex with some Aussie swimwear. The presentation continued a tradition that started at Invictus Games Sydney 2018 and again at The Hague in 2022.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex meet members of Team Invictus Australia at Invictus Games Dussseldorf 2023.
Team Australia competitor Laura Reynell came to support the wheelchair basketball team and found herself sitting next to The Duke and Duchess.
“I was listening to Down Under, thinking I was watching the game and I got to sit next to Meghan and Harry,” Reynell said.
“We talked about what Invictus has done for our Australian community back home, both serving and non-serving members and the reach that it has. I can’t wait to see it grow in another 10 years.
“Just the reach that it has. Being able to reach and (have) such a positive influence on our veteran community, and still serving as well, it’s creating that space for it to be spoken about, the rehab project on our way out or after you have an injury. It’s all positives I feel is going to run from this.
“We’re all one big community no matter what’s happened or what’s going on. We’re all there to support each other.”
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.