Wheeling Diggers take to the court on Day One of Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023
Team Invictus Australia’s Wheelchair Rugby Team, The Wheeling Diggers advanced to the quarter-finals of Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023 after they won two of their three pool matches on the opening day of competition.
The Aussies faced stiff competition first up, going down to the USA 13-4. They bounced back in their games against New Zealand and Canada, winning those 13-9 and 17-6 respectively.
In their match against Canada, the Aussies made their way onto the court to the sound of Men at Work’s ‘Down Under’ and rapturous applause from their families and friends who were court side to cheer them on.
Competitor and Australian Army Veteran Kurt Ludke said he would not be here if it weren’t for that family support.
“It’s good to have the team here to decompress, but the team is together all the time,” Ludke said.
“To have the external support being my wife and kid and other support person Hayley, it’s great to have that to assist with any distress I may have throughout the day,” he said.
Having carried the Australian flag and led the team into the Opening Ceremony a day earlier, Wheelchair Diggers Team Captain, Australian Army Veteran Lenny Redrose was emotional after the first day of competition.
“I’ve had a really good games, with honours,” Redrose said. To get a win as a captain as well has been fantastic, hopefully we can get a couple more and get a medal,” he said.
Lenny Redrose competes at the wheelchair rugby at Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023
Redrose admitted there’s more to the Games than medals but that “a medal would be great.”
“As long as everyone gets out there, everyone breaks their barriers, I’m happy with how things end with us,” he said.
A relative newcomer to wheelchair rugby, Danielle Hale is relishing her time on court and particularly enjoyed the match against New Zealand.
“I play wheelchair basketball and I kept getting caught on charging people and thought I’d try a sport where you’re meant to charge people. It’s good fun.”
“It’s been awesome, I’m meeting heaps of people from other countries. We just played our brothers across the ditch, the Kiwis and that was awesome,” she said.
Hale also acknowledged the support of family for helping her to get to where she is today.
“Without their support, I wouldn’t be able to get out there, and to training. Anyone back home, anywhere, who needs a step forward, try and get into the Invictus program. There’s lots of good opportunities there,” she said.
The families and friends support The Wheeling Diggers at Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023.
The Wheeling Diggers will face off against Team Unconquered in Monday’s quarter-finals, a composite team that is made up of a host of competitors from smaller nations. Unique to the Invictus Games, Team Unconquered allows nations that do not have enough competitors to field their own team, a chance to participate in the team sports.
Elsewhere on day one, Aussies were in action on the athletics track and in the powerlifting, with medals and personal bests scored across both sports.
At the powerlifting, Francine Dudfield won Australia’s first medal of Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023.
Francine Dudfield competes in the powerlifting at Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023.
Powerlifting proved to be a spectator favourite as the Aussies fed off the electric energy coming from the crowd.
The ultimate test of upper body strength, powerlifting tested members of Team Australia in every sense of the word, as they each had three attempts to bench press the bar. Erin Brigden, Laura Reynell, Michael, Kurt Ludke, Able Seaman Taryn Dickens, Francine Dudfield, Brooke Mead, Daniel King and Stephen Lockwood all getting a chance to shine at Dusseldorf’s Merkur Spiel-Arena.
At the track, competitors where in action both in running and field events with the action to continue there on Monday.
Verity Sanchez competes in the athletics at Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023.
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.