Chris Zizek is holding his head high after representing Canada at the Invictus Games in the Netherlands this April.
The Campbell River veteran was one of close to 500 athletes from 16 countries taking part in the games for ill and injured serving members and veterans of the military.
In one of the events he competed in, Zizek had no experience in prior to his Invictus journey.
“(Indoor)Rowing has been my new found love,” he said. “After having both hips replaced, I needed to find an activity that was low impact, but still a good workout. Rowing seemed to be a perfect fit.
Since joining the team, I’ve competed at the United States Marine Corps trials and many virtual rowing competitions, including; Canadian, Australia and British indoor rowing championships. It’s been a blast.”
He also participated in swimming and sitting volleyball, as well as represented Team Canada for the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge with his teammate Captain (retd) Colleen Kelly-Wardle.
The Invictus Games was founded by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, in 2014.
The mission of the games is to honour the service members and Veterans who are ill or injured, not necessarily related to their service, by using the power of rehabilitative sports to help them on their journey of recovery.
For Team Canada, success at the games is not defined by medals and standings, but rather by individual experiences and personal bests on the journey to recovery and the lifelong connections made among those who have served their country and are now dedicated to their own well-being.
Zizek has advice for Canadian Armed Forces members curious about the program.
“We all have difficult and challenging days, weeks and sometimes even more. We commonly say ‘I need to change something in my life.’ Well it’s time to put those words in to action. I promise you, signing up for just one Soldier On program experience will be a life changer. You’ll be surprised how many serving members or Veterans you meet that are going through similar experiences.
Be proud of who you are, even though it’s seems you are taking more steps backwards at times. Remember to celebrate every one step forward, because that step is in the right direction. You’ll be surprised what you can conquer with just that one step.”
Participation of Team Canada in this Invictus Games has been made possible through the CAF’s Soldier On program, supported by the generosity of True Patriot Love Foundation and sponsors. Soldier On has supported more than 10,000 members since its inception in 2007, and remains committed to supporting Veterans and serving CAF members with a permanent mental health or physical injury as they adapt to their new normal, overcome their challenges, and soldier on in life.
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