Sydney, Australia — Comradeship and defiance, these two traits describe what the Invictus games represent.
The games began last week. During a wheelchair tennis match between the British-Dutch team and Team USA, a helicopter flew above the court. The pilot was lower than he should have been. UK team member Paul Guest froze. The low-flying helicopter had triggered unwanted memories. And then that’s when it happened: Edwin Vermetten, his Dutch partner, immediately comprehended what was going on, and came to Guest’s aid. The Dutch player wheeled over to him and soothed him.
“I took him by the face and said, ‘look at me, we are a team so let it go. Look into my eyes and sing the Frozen song,’” said Vermetten. “For him, this was the moment he let go and he did, he literally let it go.”
Guest served in the Royal Navy as a mine warfare specialist. In 1986, while on duty, he injured his neck and spine. Thereafter, he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). His injuries restricted him to a wheelchair and limited life. But the motivation of the Invictus Games sparked a new life in him.
“I suffer from PTSD and I have flashbacks and things like that. Some of my trigger points, the obvious things — fireworks, loud noises. One of them is the noise of a helicopter, rotor blades and things like that,” said Guest
Although partners in the court, they proved brothers in life.
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