Heart & Bravery Get Me Every Time
Because we have ESPN on all the time upstairs now (yay!), I happened to catch a few events from The Invictus Games.
The Invictus Games are an international Paralympic-style event for adaptive athletes created by Britain’s Prince Harry. Wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and their associated veterans take part in wide variety of sports.
I watched the men’s 100m run for athletes who were double amputees and below-the-knee amputees. This event was as awesome as expected not just in terms of the obstacles an adaptive athlete faces to pursue an athletic passion, but because the athletic performances inof themselves were great. US Team Captain Will Reynolds, a retired Army Captain who lost his leg after an IED detonated, handily won with perfect form and stride.
Then I watched the women’s 100m wheelchair sprint. An experienced and clearly favored Kelly Elmlinger of the U.S. flew across the finish line first. Then, after most all the women had rolled in soon after, I realized that one athlete was far down the track, almost near the start line struggling to put her wheelchair in motion. She wore a white hijab neatly in place under her helmet. She seemed to be fighting to keep the chair in her lane, but her face was zeroed in on the few feet ahead of her. Her hands were stiff and were unable to grip the wheels like the other athletes. People from the crowd started to cheer louder as the camera stayed on her. Though Elmlinger had finished the race in an impressive 20 seconds, a minute into the race, the woman was only half way done. I was riveted by her. I was rooting for her so hard that tears formed in lingering pools that blurred my vision.
Her name is Ulfat Al-Zwiri from Jordan. Al-Zwiri worked as a civilian chemist in a pathology lab for the Jordanian Army when she was involved in a car accident in 2009. She was left paralyzed below the waist and left with limited use of her hands. Al-Zwiri was the only woman among 17 competitors representing Jordan at this second edition of The Invictus Games. Before that 100m event, she had never even been in a racing wheelchair, which had been loaned to her before the event. At home, she trained in her clunky, day-to-day chair.
2:08 minutes after the race started, Al-Zwiri crossed the finish line to a waiting semi circle of the other athletes in her category cheering her in. I can’t get the image of her face out of my mind. The vehemence of her look played against her delicate features and slight frame. Though her body revealed the obvious struggle this race gave her, her face did not. It was not grimaced or pained, only intensely focused on each meter. When her wheels veered off track, it was as if her eyes willed them forward. I cried the entire 2 minutes.
I wasn’t the only one Al-Zwiri made an impact on. During the closing ceremonies of this year’s Invictus Games held in Orlando, Prince Harry praised Al-Zwiri as a shining inspiration to thousands of spectators telling the crowd how Al-Zwiri “fought inch by inch to the finish line.” Though she didn’t win any awards, Invacare, the company that loaned her a race chair, donated a custom-built racing wheelchair to her so she could continue to train and compete.
Al-Zwiri said, “This was the best experience of my life.”
Man, I’m crying again.
5 Sets @ 70% C&J
2 Jerk drives
1 Split jerk
2 Front squats
Max 2×4 DB Farmer carry (2/3 BW / 1/2BW)
C) QAMRAP 8
8 2×4 Split squats w/ pivot reverse
12 Toes to bar
““Franklin Hill: Up, Over, Around & Up”
2 rounds, each for time on the 15:00”