What’s your name and your involvement in Invictus Games?
Major Bruce Eckman, I was at the first games in London and I was fortunate enough to chosen for the team last year in Toronto. This year I’m one of the ambassadors, we’re here helping guys through their Invictus Games journey.
Can you tell me about your time in Invictus London?
The London Games were so great. Nobody knew how big Invictus Games would become and for that competition there were so many people that were apprehensive about putting their name down. I put my name down and it was an absolutely brilliant competition.
What difference did it make to you to be involved in Invictus?
For me, I had been injured with an IUD strike in Afghan, I had my feet shattered and they said to me you’ll never run again. Now I’ve got a momentum brace, which is almost like a prosthetic that you wear outside of your leg and I can run now. So for me, Invictus Games was about the end of my recovery journey and I went from walking really badly and in pain, to now being able to run in front of my family and my friends in Toronto in glorious sunshine, it was such an amazing event. I was so happy to be part of it and that’s why I wanted to give something back at this one.
Tell me a bit more about your journey to becoming an Ambassador.
After getting so much out of the last event, I didn’t want to be a competitor again because I benefited so much from that journey and there’s only a certain amount of places that they can have. I thought, I don’t need that place because there’s so many other people now who could benefit from that journey just like I did. They said they’ve got these Ambassador roles for people who still want to be involved in Invictus Games. So I’ve been here helping out and mentoring people. It’s also for the people that don’t get chosen as well, being a point of contact for them.
What’s it like being an Ambassador?
It’s great meeting new people that have never taken part before. 45% of the people who are trying out have never been before. A lot of the people I was injured with, they’re here and they’re building up again. That’s what Invictus Games is about, it’s not about the games, it’s about the journey and the recovery. Everyone’s got a story like that to tell and that’s what’s amazing about this competition.
What would you say to someone considering taking up sport or being part of the Invictus Games as part of their recovery?
My biggest tip to people would be to just put your name down. Try and get involved. They do training camps beforehand, so there’s a lot of people who aren’t great sportsmen or they’ve never even tried a sport or haven’t done any running since back in school. There’s people in their late forties who are now here running today and they’ve not run since they left the army 20 years ago. So for anyone, my advice is that if you know anyone who’s wounded, injured or sick, put your name down for the next one, come and meet loads of people. You get to wear kit again, the same matching uniform, you get a number again and there’s such a camaraderie feel. It’s been such an amazing adventure.