Spa­niard’s Bay na­tive pre­par­ing for In­vic­tus Games in Aus­tralia

Mark Vokey to par­tic­i­pate in archery, vol­ley­ball, track and cy­cling events

The Compass - - Front page - BY CHRIS LEWIS [email protected]­n­com­pass.ca

A Spa­niard’s Bay na­tive is pre­par­ing for an ex­cit­ing trip down un­der.

Mark Vokey, orig­i­nally from Spa­niard’s Bay, has taken on plenty of ex­cit­ing en­deav­ours through­out his life, and be­ing se­lected as an ath­lete for the In­vic­tus Games con­tin­ues to help him con­tinue that jour­ney.

For a num­ber of years, Vokey served as a Search and Res­cue tech­ni­cian with the Royal Cana­dian Air Force. How­ever, he has had to deal with a shoul­der in­jury that will even­tu­ally re­quire a shoul­der re­place­ment surgery, on top of the three surg­eries he’s al­ready had for the in­jury.

Now, Vokey’s found him­self in a dif­fer­ent po­si­tion in Bri­tish Columbia, where he works as an in­struc­tor at the Cana­dian Forces School of Search and Res­cue (SAR) in Co­mox, teach­ing med­i­cal cour­ses to new SAR techs, as well as those re­turn­ing for re­cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. He told The Com­pass that this way, he is able to still pro­vide his skills to the forces in a way that does not put him in harm’s way, and can avoid caus­ing more dam­age to his shoul­der.

The Games

The In­vic­tus Games orig­i­nated in the United King­dom, hav­ing been cre­ated by Prince Harry in 2014 for the pur­pose of pro­vid­ing a sport­ing event for in­jured and ill armed ser­vices personnel.

Now, four years later, the event sees par­tic­i­pants join­ing in from all over the world, in­clud­ing Canada, of which there are just un­der 40 peo­ple cho­sen to rep­re­sent the coun­try out of ap­prox­i­mately 700 ap­pli­cants, with Vokey be­ing one of the few New­found­lan­ders in­cluded in the mix.

Af­ter see­ing some of his friends take part in the Games, Vokey said he was en­cour­aged to give it a shot as well, and af­ter see­ing what the Games have to of­fer, he de­cided to go ahead with the idea.

Months later, Vokey was elated to find out he was one of the lucky few to be se­lected to rep­re­sent Canada at the Games.

“I wasn’t re­ally ex­pect­ing to get se­lected, hon­estly. It feels a lit­tle bit like win­ning the lot­tery, ac­tu­ally,” Vokey said. “They make no il­lu­sions about the se­lec­tion cri­te­ria – it’s not about your skills in the sport you’re ap­ply­ing for, it’s more about be­ing the type of ath­lete to em­brace the spirit of the Games, rather than the com­pet­i­tive na­ture of the event it­self.

“They’re look­ing for the com­radery and sup­port you’re will­ing to of­fer oth­ers, and your will­ing­ness to chal­lenge your­self de­spite ev­ery­thing you’ve been through.”

This year, the Games are set to take place in Syd­ney, Aus­tralia, from Oct. 20-27.

The Games fea­ture a num­ber of sport­ing events such as in­door row­ing, pow­er­lift­ing and wheel­chair bas­ket­ball. Vokey will be tak­ing part in cy­cling, track, vol­ley­ball and archery events – the lat­ter two of which are new to the In­vic­tus Games this year.

De­spite his shoul­der in­jury, Vokey said he’s been train­ing for the events in a way that does not strain his shoul­der, all while still al­low­ing him to put all his skill be­hind each vol­ley­ball spike and archery notch.

“The In­vic­tus Games are for peo­ple that are either still serv­ing, or re­tired, with an in­jury that’s at­trib­uted to their ser­vice. (The Games) are an op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote heal­ing for th­ese peo­ple through sport­ing events,” Vokey said of the Games them­selves. “As you can imag­ine, many of the vet­er­ans, and even those still serv­ing, are strug­gling with dis­abling in­juries, or men­tal ill­nesses.

“Pro­mot­ing a healthy life­style af­ter the forces, de­spite th­ese in­juries, through sport and be­ing in­volved, and en­hanc­ing one’s sup­port net­work is some of the goals the In­vic­tus Games was meant to achieve. The mes­sage of the Games is gain­ing trac­tion in terms of pop­u­lar­ity, and I think peo­ple are be­com­ing more aware of what it’s all about.”

SUB­MIT­TED

Mark Vokey, orig­i­nally from Spa­niard’s Bay, is pre­par­ing for an ac­tion­packed week in Aus­tralia, where he will be tak­ing part in a num­ber of events at the 2018 In­vic­tus Games.

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