ARCHERY allows injured former commando and former Swanbourne-based SAS soldier Peter Rudland (44) to sharpen his skills in competition but seated volleyball has given him a new appreciation of the blunter end of sport.
“It’s an awesome sport, and the rule is your cheeks can’t leave the seat, but the downside is if you are not an amputee your bum absolutely kills afterwards,” Mr Rudland said.
Mr Rudland is the only Western Australian in the 40-strong Australian team at the third Invictus Games for injured veterans in the US state of Florida next month.
He was severely injured, including back, neck, pelvis and shoulder damage for which he is still being treated, when a helicopter carrying him and his Special Forces mates crashed in Afghanistan in 2011.
Self-confessed as “highly competitive”, now able Mr Rudland will also participate in wheelchair rugby and potentially cycling at the games.
The annual event was established three years ago to help rehabilitate the wounded and injured of recent wars, and is under the patronage of HRH Prince Harry who also served in Afghanistan with the British Army.
The Australian team of RSL and Defence Force-selected athletes and veterans was announced by Assistant Minister for Defence Michael McCormack recently, and is part of a national program sending recovering wounded and serving armed forces athletes around the world.
Participants from countries including New Zealand, the UK, Afghanistan, Italy, Jordan and the USA will compete in sports including swimming and track and field, in addition to archery, wheelchair rugby and cycling at the Invictus Games.
Archery is Mr Rudland’s main sport because it allows him to direct his physical and mental skills to one task.
However, a recent trip for sport training organised by the United States Special Operations Command (SOC) allowed him to ride a recumbent bicycle that could restart his pre-crash cycling that included triathlons, and he will borrow one of bikes for games.
“Many of the other guys who were at the SOC sport training were just like me, they often have the same severity of injuries or had been in helicopter crashes, and it was really good to talk to other guys who’d had similar experiences,” Mr Rudland said.
One man sticks in his memory.
“He had 70 per cent burns, no fingers, but he was always smiling, I remember him always smiling and always being in a good state of mind,” he said.