INSPIRING WOUNDED WARRIORS
From May 8-12, over 500 competitors from 14 countries will be taking part in the 2016 Invictus Games, a multi-sport event for Wounded, Ill and Injured Service Members, taking place in Orlando, Florida this year.
In addition to its commitment as presenting partner, this year Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC is the proud sponsor of the U.S. team, headed by Retired Army Captain Will Reynolds. Reynolds, who lost part of his leg from a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2004, went on to win four bronze medals in the 2014 Invictus Games. Here he tells us how the Games inspire Wounded, Ill and Injured Service Members.
What does the role of U.S. Invictus team captain involve?
My key role is to inspire, motivate and coordinate the 115 athletes that make up the U.S. team. We are the biggest group in the Games, with athletes from many different walks of life, with many different injuries. I’m trying to be the interface between the athletes, the coaches and the organizers, as well as the one voice of the team. For me personally, it is a huge honor, and something I never imagined could be possible.
What do you think is the key message from the Invictus Games?
The Invictus Games are all about motivating and inspiring servicemen and servicewomen who have recently been injured. From May 8 to 12, they’ll be able to turn on ESPN and watch athletes who, just a couple of years ago, may have been seriously injured and are now out there achieving great things. The Games can be very empowering.
Sport played a major part in your recovery. What do you see as the benefits?
Being part of a team provides people with the support they need through their rehabilitation journey. It allows them to share stories, share experiences and discuss how they can navigate their own journey. Sport helps everybody move forward a little easier. It inspires recovery, supports healing and helps us rise above our comfort level.
What do you think drove your own recovery?
First and foremost, family and friends. They did so much to motivate me to get well. One of the great things about the military and military medicine is their ability to move me forward vocationally while taking care of my health. They pushed me to get involved in athletics, which enabled me to see and interact with athletes who had been injured and were now competing at the Paralympic level. Two years ago at the first Invictus Games in London, I was proud to have won four bronze medals.
With the Games coming up fast, how are you preparing yourself for your events?
I work with a coach who keeps me focused on my training. When I’m on the road I take my running leg with me and hit the treadmill hard. I need to focus as I’m competing in four track and two cycling events. For me, just competing in the Invictus Games and serving my country is such a great honor.
ESPN will begin its 40+ hour coverage of the Invictus Games on May 8 at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN2. ESPN2 will also provide daily coverage May 9-11 from 7-8 p.m. each day, supplemented by more than 35 hours of live action on ESPN3.