For the Romanian Mixed 4x50m Freestyle Relay team, competing at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 presented by Jaguar Land Rover on Wednesday night was not just about how far they’ve each come in their rehabilitation journeys to be here, it was about showing solidarity and the pride that comes with being Romanian.
The 25th of October is Romania’s Armed Forces Day – a national holiday signifying the date of complete liberation of north-western Transylvania from foreign ruling and administration. In short, a national holiday that marks the country’s freedom.
“74 years ago, our countrymen and soldiers, they fought for Romania to free the last piece of land, and importantly, our freedom,” said relay team member Doru Hamza.
“For us in Romania, we offer gratitude for their sacrifice and to compete at the Invictus Games tonight and on this day, it will be in honour of them and it’s an honour for us.”
An important and emotional day in the history of Romania’s people, the emotions also ran high for Hamza’s relay team mates Laurentiu Serban and Ionel Bida, who are proud of the sacrifices they’ve made for their country and in their own transitions after serving their beloved country.
“We are emotional, but we are very proud because the flag of Romania is here amongst other great countries and we are here to see it,” said Bida.
We know that with Invictus happening on this day, we can inspire the civilian boy and old men at home. They see what we are doing here and if we can do that, then they can do more and be better.
While Team Romania has only a small team of 15 at this year’s Invictus Games, the individual journeys of each competitor have not gone unnoticed at home, according to Serban.
“Romania has started Invictus movements, where students, including the military students are running with the Invictus logo on their chest on Romanian Armed Forces Day,” he said.
“Thousands will be running in three different directions across the country in a relay race, all of them with the Invictus logo on their chest.
“This is the second or third year they are all running with the Invictus spirit. For us to be here for the Romanian Team, it’s the same. It’s an honour and hopefully we will be remembered in history, just like our members of the country that fought for us 74 years ago.
“It’s an honour that so many in Romania will get involved and learn.”
Serban also added that while it will be a great day of learning about Romania’s history for students at home, he hopes they take a lesson in the healing power of sport.
“Since last year when we started the training, our health, our weight has improved and we can become motivation for other people when they see what we are doing,” he said.
Sport is therapy for everybody and everybody should find a reason to get out of bed in the morning and do something good for themselves.
Bida recalled his time competing at his second Invictus Games, and the impact it’s had on his time since serving.
“When I’m in the water, I know I am well because it’s just me and God, and I think with my head clear in the water, this is the best therapy for my soul.
“I’m honoured to wear the Romanian colours and I am honoured to have this opportunity to help myself.”
Invictus Games Sydney 2018