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ASP Warrior Games Selection Camp Wheelchair

Aussie wounded veterans head to the AIS for a chance of a spot at the Warrior Games 2024 

The Adaptive Sports Program (ASP) Selection Camp, run in partnership by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Invictus Australia (IA), recently unfolded at the prestigious Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra. From Friday 1 March to Monday 4 March 2024, the AIS played host to a gathering of current and former serving veterans.

For some, just traveling and being away from home to focus on sport is a major win. For others, this is the start of a journey to the Warrior Games. Whilst not all can be selected for Warrior Games, participating in the selection camp was a display of mateship and resilience amongst this crew of wounded, injured or ill military veterans. 

The primary objective of the camp was clear: to provide inspiration, learning, motivation and purpose through the power of sport, not just to select a squad for the upcoming Department of Defence (DoD) Warrior Games in Orlando this June. It served as a platform for the hopeful competitors to acquaint themselves with the staff, coaches, and potential teammates, setting the stage for the final team selection. 

Throughout the weekend, participants were immersed in a diverse array of individual and team sports, reflecting the breadth of competition they may encounter at the Warrior Games. From adrenaline-pumping wheelchair rugby to precision-focused archery, the competitors experienced it all. Interspersed between training sessions were moments of relaxation, including recovery pool sessions, uniform fittings, admin and opportunities to connect with key personnel. 

One of the highlights of the camp was a spirited introduction session, where the ice was broken and the competitors were welcomed by the support staff. Team Manager, CPO Anne Pahl kicked this welcome off acknowledging the key reasons for this weekend as well as recognising the elite facilities available to the current and former serving veterans for the weekend.   

“I want to acknowledge being here in the venue of the AIS. What a wonderful venue it is, and we feel especially lucky to be able to hold the Adaptive Sport Program selection camp here in an Olympic and Paralympic year.” CPO Anne Pahl, Adaptive Sports Program Team Manager. 

ASP Warrior Games Selection Camp power lifting
Credit ADF

Holding this event at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra served as an inspirational backdrop for the veterans to either begin or continue their journey in the Adaptive Sport Program. From getting to train on the ‘fastest track in the world’, to swimming in the AIS dubbed ‘holy water’ testing and training pool, being in this iconic sporting venue was welcomed by all. 

However, amidst the excitement and camaraderie, a crucial aspect of the camp was a categorisation assessment process. This process aims to prepare competitors for the categorisation process that is conducted in the lead up to the competition to ensure fairness and inclusivity by considering a range of factors beyond traditional classifications. It embraces psychological injuries and chronic health conditions, ensuring a level playing field for all participants. 

Camaraderie at camp

Reflecting on the experience, one participant shared, “We’ve got to see what professional-level sport competitors get to use here at the AIS, and it’s been incredible! I’ve loved every moment and am hopeful of having a chance to compete at the upcoming Warrior Games. But for me, just being here is success.” – Former-serving veteran and Invictus Games 2023 competitor   

A previous competitor, Ainsley Hooker brought her positive attitude and past experience to the camp. In a heartwarming moment, Ainsley put her hand up to help a fellow competitor set up the adaptive shot-put seat, taking her time to explain how to use the piece of equipment which was new to them. The camp was filled with inspiring moments such as these, emulating the true spirit of Team Australia.  

For many, this was the first foray into the adaptive sporting world in a Team environment. However, this did not affect the success of the weekend.  

Invictus Australia’s Director, Pathways and Alumni Adam Pine OAM, OLY reflected positively on the weekend’s events.  

“The Adaptive Sports Program Camp at the AIS was truly inspiring. Witnessing the competitors’ determination and willingness to try something new and push their limits across multiple sports in a world-class facility was a privilege.  

The AIS provided the perfect environment – from the accessible training areas to the supportive staff – for each athlete to maximise their potential. It was a weekend filled not just with athletic growth, but also with camaraderie and a celebration of the incredible resilience and determination.”  

pathways beyond the adaptive sport program

There are limited positions available for Australian Teams and not every eligible person who applies or attends a camp will be able to attend a Warrior or Invictus Games.  

Unfortunately, many who apply will miss out on involvement in the ASP. However, Invictus Australia encourages and supports all individuals who apply to re-commence or continue their journey toward life-long participation in sport. We facilitate this in local communities with grassroots sporting opportunities overseen by a team of frontline staff, all with a Defence connection – our Veteran Engagement Managers. Opportunities include competitions, adventure challenges, participation, volunteering, refereeing and many other avenues,  

We encourage all in the Defence community to follow their local Invictus Australia  Facebook Group that promotes activities in their area, plus sign up to receive a monthly e-newsletter to stay across Invictus Australia news.  

the dod warrior games

Looking ahead, the journey for these current and former-serving veterans is just beginning. The DoD Warrior Games, scheduled for June 21-30, 2024, at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, will be the ultimate test of their resilience and dedication. As proud partners, the ADF and IA are committed to supporting Team Australia as they embark on this extraordinary endeavor. 

And, as mentioned above, many of these competitors will continue to participate in events with Invictus Australia in their local communities, with their family & friends, regardless of this selection outcome.  

In essence, the ASP Selection Camp not only showcased the athletic prowess of its participants but also underscored the unyielding spirit and resilience that define the Australian Defence community. As they gear up to represent their country on the global stage, or remain connected through sport on a local level, they carry with them the unwavering support and admiration of a nation proud of their achievements. 

Invictus Australia partners with the Australian Defence Force on the Adaptive Sport Program, to deliver Team Australia for each Invictus Games and Warrior Games. With competitor selection at its early stages, keep up to date with Team Australia’s journey to the Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025 via our social media. 

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.