More than a hundred athletes are in Saanich and Greater Victoria for a week-long training block to kickoff their steady march towards the 2017 Invictus Games, Sept. 23 to 30 in Toronto.
Pacific Institute for Sporting Excellence is a central hub for the athletes, with Rowing Canada, Athletics Canada, PISE’s fitness centre and gym all made available to the athletes and coaches.
They’ll also train at the Vic Bowmen Archery Club, Saanich Commonwealth Place (for aquatics) and at CFB Esquimalt.
“When we heard there was a chance to host [an Invictus training camp] we immediately raised our hand,” Robert Bettauer, CEO of PISE told the gym full of Invictus athletes during the launch. “You’re using the same facilities as our Olympians.”
PISE served as home base on Monday morning when the Canadian athletes – who’ve suffered injury, visible or invisible, while serving their country – were introduced to the various facilities they’ll have access to.
The majority of the athletes travelled from across the country for the training block, though Lt. (N) Krista Seguin is a local. Seguin, 27, works full time in logistics for the Navy and has been based out of Esquimalt for three years.
Seguin, a former CIS basketball player with the Royal Military College’s Paladins, has permanent leg damage due to compartment syndrome sustained during basic training. She’ll compete in sitting volleyball and power lifting.
It’s been a powerful experience so far for Seguin, as the junior officer is set to compete in her first Invictus Games alongside teammates who have also sustained injuries, including those who’ve lost limbs, and in the case of one teammate, an eye, in the heat of battle.
“It’s been a spring board for me,” Seguin said. “I always played basketball and volleyball since Grade 8, but I can’t do anything like that now. I had [attempted] corrective surgery but it had the side effect of permanent damage.”
At first, Seguin was depressed. She got back into work, however, and began to give back by coaching the women’s volleyball team at CFB Esquimalt as ‘those who can’t, coach,’ she said.
“This has given me something to look forward to.”
At the moment Seguin has every reason to believe she will compete for a medal in the bench press.
“Right now I’m at a 165-pound max, which is what won gold last year, but I’ll [need to go higher],” Seguin said.
On Monday she got acquainted with the PISE fitness centre, which includes Olympic standard platforms.
“There’s no question PISE has been incredibly supportive and we’re able to stage our training camps here,” said Invictus Games CEO Michael Burns.
Partnerships with facilities such as PISE are instrumental to success at the games, Burns said.
“I’ve talked with other countries that certainly have the ill and injured but are struggling to put together a campaign like this,” Burns said.
The Invictus Games run every year and will be in Australia for 2018. Bettauer said he is interested in nominating Victoria for 2020.