Adaptive sport generates more than medals

Published on CPL Bill Solomou (author), Warrior Games (photographer)

Location(s): Chicago, IL, USA

Topic(s): Cycling, Basketball, Swimming, Adaptive Sports

The Australian team at the opening ceremony of the 2017 Warrior Games. (photo: Warrior Games)
The Australian team at the opening ceremony of the 2017 Warrior Games.

Australian Defence Force personnel were warriors for a week when they recently competed at an international sporting event in America’s windy city.

More than 275 defence personnel from Australia, the US and UK competed at the Warrior Games in Chicago from 30 June to 8 July.

The games were established in 2010 to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded service personnel and to expose them to adaptive sports.

The Defence members participated as part of the Adaptive Sports Program, which aims to support Australian Defence Force personnel who, during their service, have been wounded, injured, or have suffered serious illness.

Program team Leader Lieutenant Commander Nicola Edgeworth said the mission was to use the power of adaptive sport to enhance quality through life for serving members, veterans and their families.

“The Warrior Games is one such event we are very excited to be involved with,” Lieutenant Commander Edgeworth said.

“It engages wounded, injured and ill personnel and their families, and aims to support recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration outcomes.

“This international event creates connections for the individuals and Defence through principles of participation, pathways and potential.”

The team of 10 was made up of all three services, each with different ailments yet all with the same goal, to do their best, and most importantly to have a go.

By the end of the games, five medalled.

The Australian Defence team competed in many of the eight individual and team sports, including archery, cycling, field, shooting, swimming, track and sitting volleyball.

Navy was represented by Chief Petty Officer Electronics Technician Robin Elkington, Able Seaman Maritime Logistics – Personnel Christine Merrilees, and Able Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator Patrick Condon.

Competing in her first games, Able Seaman Merrilees said she was proud to be given the opportunity to represent Navy and the Australian Defence Force.

She competed in the track, swimming, field, wheelchair basketball and seated volleyball events.

“My goal was to put in 100 per cent – to try as hard as I can in all my chosen events,” she said.

“If I bring home a medal that is a bonus, and just by being there and competing means I have already won.”

Able Seaman Merrilees received a bronze in the 100 metre freestyle with a personal best time of 1:58.63, and finished with several close fourth places.

Able Seaman Condon won a silver medal in the 100 metre freestyle.