There were smiles, tears, breakthroughs and plenty of cheers at the swimming finals at the Pan Am Sports Centre in Toronto. There were medals too: five gold, nine silver, eight bronze, but it was the personal victories that made the event for competitors and supporters alike.
Emma Pack and Jen Warren made a splash in the Women’s 100m Freestyle event finishing with a gold and silver. But they immediately turned around to swim back to the two US swimmers to encourage them on to the finish with massive support from the crowd behind them.
Jen said of the swimming event: “It’s so great to see team members doing so well. It’s not all about the medals. Yes, that’s nice, but I’m just so proud of the whole team.”
Poppy Pawsey epitomised what the Invictus Games means when she gained a bronze medal in her 100m Freestyle category. It took her a few seconds to realise she’d placed third and it came completely unexpected to her. A huge grin, a lot of screaming with joy and water fist pumps followed.
Speaking immediately after her race Poppy said: “I couldn’t have done it without all these guys behind me. I have so much support here. I’ve got me back and I feel so proud. I never ever imagined that six months ago I’d be smiling again. It means the world. My parents have got their daughter back.”
On the archery range at Fort York UK Team archers picked up their bows for the final time and their arrows were certainly on target.
Clare Langham-Phillips opened the day with a bronze medal. The RAF Chief Technician follows in the footsteps of brother Andy Phillips, who claimed medals at previous Invictus Games’ and inspired Clare to give archery a go. She has found the sport to give her a new focus, after facing the prospect of her 30-year career in the RAF coming to an end after being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome last year.
Fellow archer Kerys Knight achieved a gold medal win against the USA and Canada, and in the Team Open Recurve event against the USA, the UK Team made up of Gareth Paterson, Matt Neve and Kieran Wood again claimed the top spot.
It was back to the Pan Am Sports Centre for the UK Team’s final group game in Wheelchair Basketball. Having impressed with wins in their previous two matches, they made it a clean sweep as they defeated Denmark 20-10, with Michael Mellon again showing his shooting skill.
It meant the team topped their group and will head into tomorrow’s medal matches full of confidence. With it being the only sport taking place on the final day of the Games, the support from both UK competitors and fans looks set to be immense as the curtain comes down on an extraordinary, inspiring week.Register your interest for Invictus Games 2018