Track and field stars ready to embrace Invictus spirit

On days six and seven of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 presented by Jaguar Land Rover, attention will shift to the athletics schedule.

The sport has the most amount of wounded, injured, ill-former and currently serving defence personnel challenging for medals at Invictus Games Sydney, all at the Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre.

Among them is Jordan’s Ulfat Al-Zwiri, who will compete in the Women’s 100m wheelchair race on Friday after placing second behind her countrywoman, Amany Abdel Rahman, in indoor rowing on Monday.

At the Games in 2016, she captured the hearts of the Invictus Games family and was referenced by His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex at the Closing Ceremony, “Why did we stand in our seats, cheering our hearts out as Jordanian wheelchair racer Ulfat Al-Zwiri fought, inch by inch, to the finish line? Invictus!”

Ahead of Friday’s race, Al-Zwiri said the Invictus Games had changed her life.

“Before the Invictus Games, I was sad,” she said.

“But it has been a turning point for me and now I have self-confidence. I am happy, I am social.”

On the field, spectators can also look forward to watching Captain Emma Kadziolka, Nursing Officer and two-time competitor from the Australian Army, compete in shot put and discus.

She’s coming off impressive gold and silver medal performances in indoor rowing.

Kadziolka hopes to see Sydneysider’s out in their droves, ready to cheer her and her teammates home once again.

“Being here in Sydney, it’s different,” she said.

“Our preparation for the Games has been strong. A few athletes have been in Brisbane, getting together twice a week to train for throws with our coach up there.

“We’ve also had several team camps and participated in the North Queensland Athletics Championships as well, which was a really great introduction to competition.

“But I think on top of all that, the home crowd is really going to work in our favour. It’s been so positive to see so many people supporting us all so far, and we’re really hoping that athletics will generate that same level of interest. Nothing beats a home crowd.”

Kadziolka was diagnosed with a slow-growing brain tumour in 2016 and she said that psychologically, the hardest part has been coming to terms with not being able to treat the tumour so long as it is dormant.

“The Invictus Games have been paramount for me in coming to terms with my diagnosis. And I think, you know, it’s been really inspiring for me to be able to share this experience with others.

“A lot of motivation can be gained from shared experiences with current and former serving athletes,” said Kadziolka.

“It’s really special for me just to be here in Sydney and to compete,” she concluded.

Lauren Robertson
Invictus Games Sydney 2018