Halifax Med Tech on road to 2017 Invictus Games
By Ryan Melanson,
Canada’s 2017 Invictus Games athletes recently wrapped up their first week-long national training camp in Victoria, BC, and one of Formation Halifax’s Invictus athletes says it was thrilling to meet the other members of Team Canada and begin ramping up her training. The team is preparing for this year’s games, which are being held from September 23-30 in Toronto.
“It was intense and there were long, hard days, but we had some great coaches and it was wonderful to meet so many people who were like-minded and ready to get to work,” said Sgt Jessica Miller, a med tech with CF H Svcs (A), who’ll be competing in the shot put, discuss and indoor rowing events.
The Invictus Games is a multi-sport, international competition entering its fourth year as an annual event, with up to 500 participants from 15 different countries expected to compete. All athletes are serving or retired military members who have overcome an injury or illness to participate in sport. Sgt Miller said she took an interest in the games last year, heard more about it through events with Soldier On, and took a chance on sending in an application.
It’s not just one injury or illness that she’s had overcome to become an Invictus athlete, but a variety. She’s battled mental illness and PTSD, underwent spinal fusion for a broken back, and had surgery last summer after suffering a broken hip.
Going through these difficult recovery processes, she said, is part of what spurred her to better herself physically and mentally and seek out opportunities like the Invictus Games.
Sgt Miller has been in the CAF for 20 years, and though still working at CF H Svcs (A), she’ll be releasing from the Forces at the end of this year. This puts her in a different position than some athletes on the Invictus team who have already moved away from life in the military.
“Because I’m still serving and wearing the uniform everyday, I haven’t experienced yet that less of camaraderie and loss of identity that affects so many people when they leave the forces,” she said.
“It was hard for me to really feel like a part of the team or a member of Invictus until I got to the training camp. That’s when it hit home for me.”
She said it was refreshing to be in a judgement-free environment with people who have a different range of abilities, and where nobody looks twice at someone using a wheelchair or a prosthetic limb. A number of team members had already connected on social media beforehand, and close bonds were quickly formed when the group came together at the camp.
“Everybody just gets it. It’s a great group of people to be around,” she said.
Now, back in Halifax, Sgt Miller will keep training with a seven-week plan put together by her Invictus coaches, designed to keep her skills improving up to the next Team Canada training camp in Kingston, Ontario, which takes place in June. Each team member’s goal is to make as much progress as possible and push themselves towards excellence in their sport, but fierce competitiveness isn’t something that comes strongly into play at the Invictus Games, even between rival nations. The games are about celebrating the resilience and the achievements of each athlete who has overcome obstacles to compete.
“It’s not so much about winning medals or anything like that. It’s about the journey and the progress, and how far you’ll have come by the time the games are over,” Sgt Miller said.