Danish swimmers cheered on by royalty

Johan Lehrmann didn’t get the result he trained for in the Men’s ISD 50m Breaststroke on Tuesday, but he wasn’t fazed at all.

Instead, he focused on the faces of the Danish contingent in the crowd at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre, which included Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik.

“It makes me feel even better that he saw that, because he’s been to many of our trainings,” said Lehrmann.

I love that he’s really supportive of us all, and he knows – he’s been in the military too.

Lehrmann credits the Invictus Games for transforming his life and finding his way out of darkness, following battles with post traumatic stress (PTS), which he speaks openly about.

“I’ve moved so far from the start because I tried to commit suicide and it was a terrible thing I did to my family and my girlfriend seeing me like that.

“This (the Invictus Games) is the way to the top and I’m crawling out of this deep, deep hole I was in,” said the 28-year-old.

Despite making his debut for Denmark in Sydney, Lehrmann doesn’t intend to compete again.

“I said to myself before coming, this will be my first Invictus Games and hopefully my last.

“I’ve changed, I want to feel it once and then give the opportunity to another person next year and the year after that.”

The Invictus Games brings competitors from different nations together to compete for medals in adaptive sports but it is the unconquered spirit of the Games which provides an opportunity for competitors to share their similarities.

Lehrmann says his friends now extend beyond the Danish Military because of these Games.

“I thought I was alone in the world; that everything I felt, was only a thing that I felt.

I just thought nobody could help me, nobody is feeling the same. But to connect with other veterans who are the same took a lot of pressure off my shoulders.

“Now I don’t have to say to myself that I’m all alone with this and I can open up to the other guys.”

Lehrmann was inspired to compete at the Invictus Games after meeting the Crown Prince of Denmark in his role as an ambassador to The Danish Wounded Warriors Project (DWWP), a charity which provides injured veterans with avenues for recovery through sport.

He trained for 12 months with DWWP staff to run a marathon last year.

Following his swimming and road cycling events in Sydney, Lehrmann intends to combine the three sports and become a triathlete.

“I spent a year sitting on the couch all day, and now look at me, I am here competing!”

For assistance contact:
• Lifeline  13 11 14  www.lifeline.org.au
• Beyond Blue  1300 22 46 36  www.beyondblue.org.au

Kate Banville
Invictus Games Sydney 2018