Injured Soldiers Train for Sports

Injured Soldiers Train for Sports testing

The Soldier On group starts their fitness testing for the day at PISE, on May 5, completing jumping jacks.

The Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence (PISE) was the backdrop for the kickoff to a five-day Soldier On Multisport Camp.

A team of 29 serving and former Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members from across Canada spent May 5 to 9 training for rowing, cycling, and triathlon with Olympic and Paralympic coaches.

Participants were flown to Victoria, free of cost, to push themselves physically and mentally as they were introduced, or re-introduced, to a sports intensive lifestyle.

“The intent of the camp was to inspire and motivate ill and injured members and former members through the transformative power of sport,” says PO1 Joe Kiraly, Operations Warrant for Soldier On.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity to show the positive role physical fitness plays in an individual’s journey to recovery.”

Successful applicants were chosen from across Canada, based on regional priorities and first time participation.

Five members were from Victoria. Only those who have suffered a permanent physical injury or mental health illness while enrolled in the CAF were eligible to apply.

Many participants had either minimal experience in their chosen sport group, or had never tried it, while others had been near professional athletes in their sport of choice before sustaining injury.

“We kicked off the week with a series of physical tests measuring body data, musculoskeletal strength, and aerobic fitness capability, all of which were organized by Jonathan Ritchot, the PISE Adapted Strength and Conditioning Specialist,” says PO1 Kiraly.

Aspiring student physiotherapists and strength conditioning professionals from Camosun College’s Centre for Sport and Exercise Education carried out modified push up tests, sprint tests, and grip tests.

A quick game of wheelchair basketball followed, sponsored by the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association.

The remainder of the week saw the participants split into one of the three groups, where specialized training was led by high-level coaches.

The rowing group was taken to Elk Lake to practice their skills, while cyclists toured around the hilly Victoria landscape, and triathlon group members trained further at the Naden gym at CFB Esquimalt.

Dane Young, 46, was part of the triathlon group.

A native to Fredericton, New Brunswick, Young says he spent the week concentrating on training in the prime Victoria training weather.

“I’m a road runner, and I wanted to get as much experience exercising out here as possible before race season starts,” he says.

Young, a retired flight engineer with 22 years in the Forces, found joining Soldier On to be a good transition back into civilian life.

“When you leave the military, you end up missing that camaraderie. You feel left out, broken, and you’re back at home after being at work every day, so you end up searching for something you can do.”

When a friend in Soldier On encouraged Young to apply, the naturally athletic retiree saw it as an opportunity to help ease his way back into a culture that suddenly felt alien to him.

“I’ve joined running groups, I have a whole bunch of races lined up for the year – it’s just really helped me get back into society.”

He says the week spent simulating the components of a triathlon through swim, cycling, and mini-races has helped mentally prepare him for completing his first triathlon in September.

“I know the camp has given me the skills, so I won’t feel like such an outsider when I show up that day.”

For more information on Soldier On, please visit:


Rachel Lallouz
Staff Writer

Filed Under: Top Stories


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