Laura Reynell

Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023 Competitor

ADF service: 
I joined the Royal Australian Navy as a Boatswains Mate. During my service I deployed to South East Asia twice and around Australia. I was medically discharged in 2020. 
Current occupation:
Studying interior design online and renovating my home.

Home town: 
Cleveland, Queensland
Current town:
 Jervis Bay, New South Wales
Competing in: 
Archery, powerlifting and rowing
What is the nature of your injury or illness? 
During my deployment in 2017 I was badly injured by a machine gun. This resulted in countless surgeries, twice learning to walk again, having my foot fully pinned and 12 months later having a joint replacement on that same foot. I still suffer from intense nerve damage in my leg and lower back, along with not being able to feel my right foot at all.
What role has sport played in your rehabilitation?
Sport has always been my biggest outlet even when I was a little kid, so losing that to the point where I couldn't get out of bed until my partner came home from work, put me in a pretty dark place. I started to believe I had lost who I was and would never be happy again. 
Once I started the journey of learning to walk and getting my independence back, I started looking at local gyms to join, even if it meant I could only go for 20 minutes at the start. I joined a local pilates studio to help re learn balance and strength. The endorphins exercise gave me helped get me back to "who I was” before my accident.
Sport has played an integral part of my rehabilitation, but if there’s any advice I could give other people, it is make sure you find "your people". I’m not sure if I just got really lucky with my gym, pilates and footy family, but if I hadn’t met them, I don’t think I would have recovered as well. They never judged me or looked at me any different and I think that played a major role in me just going through the motions in learning what was the "new me” as it was a safe place where I didn’t feel different or judged.
Sport background: 
Growing up I played competitive soccer, touch football, swimming and athletics.
Before my accident I was playing local and representative touch football, I had also just started cross-fit. It took around three years after my accident before I could start going to cross-fit again. Since then, I have played touch football again and even made representative teams along with doing local crossfit competitions with friends for fun.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
Realising who I was before my accident doesn’t mean I’m any less of a person now. All the obstacles I have faced at 28 years of age has only made me stronger. It was and still is a long road ahead but there is nothing I’m not capable of achieving now.
Why did you apply for the Invictus Games?
I feel like I have come a long way in my rehabilitation and training. I’m now in the right place mentally and physically and I wanted to prove to myself how far I have come and be proud of it. I wanted to meet people that had also been through difficulties and overcome them. 
What will success look like for you at the Games?
Meeting new people, making new friends, forming new memories and hearing everyone’s stories. Putting in 100% to show myself how far I have come since my accident and to be proud of this achievement.
What does unconquered mean to you? 
To not allow what has happened to you to define you or let it defeat or overcome you. You are not defined by what has happened to you, instead you are what you do afterwards. 

Laura Reynell Invictus Australia Winter Allied Sports Camp