Breaking down barriers is the focus for Royal New Zealand Navy officer Lieutenant Dan Crawford as he heads to the Invictus Games in Canada.
The Invictus Games is the only international adaptive sporting event for wounded, injured and ill active duty and veteran service members. This year’s event, in Toronto from 23-30 September, will be the largest yet, with 550 ill and injured servicemen and women from 17 allied nations – including 24 from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) – competing in 12 adaptive sporting events.
Lieutenant Crawford, who was born in Tokoroa and raised in One Tree Point, Whangarei, will compete in athletics, indoor rowing and swimming.
He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2014 and said that to him the Games were about showing that no matter what your limitations were you could still achieve your goals.
“This is an opportunity to prove to those who would doubt or discriminate based on a diagnosis that I am the same person I was when I joined the Navy,” he said.
“I consider the only change to my health is that there is now a known condition. I’ve made diet and lifestyle changes that have left me feeling physically a healthier, stronger person and the only impact to my mental state is a greater resilience and determination to succeed.”
The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate awareness of the physical and psychological injuries sustained by wounded warriors.
Lieutenant Crawford said it was humbling to train and compete alongside people who had worked through and overcome such adversity in their lives.
“I see competing at the Invictus Games as a way of proving that no one should be defined or constrained by their injury or in my case their diagnosis. They are a means of supporting the rehabilitation of those who are used to a performing at a high level but for injury or illness have not been able to maintain this.
“To be part of the team means I can continue to promote the spirit of positivity and hopefully help others along the way in their journeys.”