St. Albert veteran shoots, cycles, scores at Invictus Games

A Northern Alberta resident and military vet says competing at Invictus Games in the Netherlands was inspirational.

A retired St. Albert soldier showed the strength of his spirit last week in The Netherlands as he represented Canada during the Invictus Games.

St. Albert resident and retired Sgt. Jeffrey Docksey was one of the 28 members of Team Canada in The Hague, Netherlands, April 16-22 who competed in the Invictus Games.

Established in 2013 by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, the Invictus (Latin for “unconquered”) Games are an international sports competition for wounded soldiers who use the power of sport to inspire others in their recovery process. In Canada, athletes apply to compete in the games through the Soldier On program (which uses sports and recreation to help soldiers recover from injuries).

This year’s games, which were held over from 2020 due to the pandemic, featured about 500 athletes from 16 nations competing in archery, athletics, cycling, indoor rowing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge, said Team Canada spokesperson Capt. Stéphany Lura. While athletes can win medals, the emphasis is more on the experience of the games.

Docksey, 60, has lived in St. Louis. Albert with his wife and four kids since 2001.

In an email interview last week, Docksey said he was too short to become a police officer like his father, so he joined the military, seeing it as the next best thing. He served as a gunner, crewman, and geotech, seeing action in the Golan Heights, Cyprus, Bosnia, and Afghanistan. In 1988, he represented Canadian peacekeepers at the Nobel award ceremony in Oslo when United Nations peacekeepers received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Docksey retired from the military in 2012 and lives with PTSD and anxiety disorder injuries.

“After 27 years in the Canadian Armed Forces and five overseas deployments in my case, you can not help but bring back with you some things you’d rather forget,” Docksey said.

“It’s how soon you deal with it and who you go to for help [that] is what makes the difference when it comes to recovery. ”

Inspirational athletics

Docksey said he heard about the games in 2014. He loved watching the Olympics as a kid, watching the camaraderie of nations as athletes strove to do their best, and thought he would love to be a part of something like that.

“When you’re in the military, you spend your career as part of a team, and when you get out you lose a lot of that. Being a member of Team Canada gave that back to me, even if for a short period of time. ”

Docksey said he took part in three training camps and practiced with the Edmonton Northern Lights wheelchair basketball team to prepare for the games. Much of this training was made possible by support from the St. Albert Legion.

Docksey competed in archery, wheelchair basketball, and cycling at the games.

Docksey said he met and traded pins with many athletes at the games, and became fast friends with his Romanian opponent in the archery event.

“A [British athlete] and I were commenting in the food lineup that if only nations in the real world got along as well as all of us have been at these games, the world would be a much better place, ”he said.

One standout moment for Docksey at the games was when he gave a Canadian pin and a small flag to one of the Ukrainian athletes. Instead of receiving a pin in exchange, he got a 5 “x 5” wooden plaque with “Team Ukraine” etched into it. In the middle is a piece of metal the size of a silver dollar with the Ukrainian coat of arms pressed into it The metal came from either an artillery shell or a Russian armored vehicle – shrapnel from the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Docksey said he will treasure this gift for the rest of his life.

“It really hit home then, what these people are currently living and dying through. They will be returning home in the next two days, and for many [going] back to defending their nation. Their team is an inspiration to all of us. ”

Another memorable moment for Docksey was the thunderous applause Team Canada received during its wheelchair basketball match against the Netherlands.

“It was a moment I will never forget. For me, that was a true Invictus moment. ”

Docksey had a clear message to send to everyone out there struggling with their mental and physical health.

“As long as you’re breathing, as long as your heart is beating, there is always hope you can recover and get better,” he said.

“The help is out there and may be closer than you think.”

Visit www.soldieron.ca/team-canada/invictus for more on this year’s games.

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