Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Invictus Experience

As many of you know I was a coach for Team Canada in rowing and power-lifting for the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando Florida. This was a life changing experience for me, and I was truly inspired by the men and women I met. I made many new friends and hope to see them all again in Toronto in 2017!

600 athletes competed in 11 sports including rowing, power-lifting, wheelchair basketball, rugby, archery, track and field, swimming, wheelchair tennis, road cycling, sitting volleyball and the land rover drive challenge.

My adventure began about 8 months ago with a call form executive director of “Soldier On” Greg Lagace. He asked if I would be interested in helping out with the team. As an ex-national rower and trainer of a Paralympic power-lifter I had some experience in those sports.  I accepted the job on a volunteer basis.

I began by designing a rowing program to get the rowers (many of which had never rowed and especially not in a competition) some base cardio training. Moderate duration basic rows were used to develop base cardio and to increase capillaries attached to the muscle fibers.  For power-lifters, our power coach at TopShape Alex and I came up with a bench press program for them to follow. Their numbers immediately began to climb!

The row program then moved to lactic tolerance (anyone who has ever rowed competitively knows this is what it’s all about). All the athletes were monitored online until we would meet at our training camp! Weekly milestones were given and athlete feedback was crucial in making sure they were not over training.

In January we had the first of 2 training camps in Toronto and we did some testing to see where everyone was. All the rowers were doing very well and putting up decent numbers. The power-lifters were also doing well.

By our second camp in March the team had come together and all the numbers were very good! The biggest issue I had to deal with was many of the athletes were in multiple sports and were training for each so burnout and injuries were a huge factor! Most were managed very well.
Once we left for Orlando everyone was very confident that we would do well at the games and we did!

My crew won 8 rowing medals and 2 of 3 power-lifting medals! 29 athletes came home with 22 medals so needless to say Team Canada did us proud.  Although the premise of the games were not focused on medals but it was on individual achievement. These heroes give everyone around the world inspiration. 

The added bonus of 22 medals for Canada is a huge perk!
To Team Canada I am the most proud of had the opportunity to have met all of you, and I am a better person for it! 


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul. 
William Ernest Henley
Bring on Toronto 2017