New course for veteran with Invictus Games

Master Corporal (Retired) Sandy Bate prepares for the Invictus Games. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

Master Corporal (Retired) Sandy Bate prepares for the Invictus Games. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A military veteran and talented athlete from CFB Esquimalt who endured two painful knee replacement surgeries says her inclusion in the upcoming Invictus Games has re-invigorated her life.

Master Corporal (Retired) Sandy Bate is competing in golf at the Invictus Games  in Toronto. She says win, lose or draw, competing in the Games will be a victory.

“Being part of Invictus has given me something to shoot for, and makes me feel great that I am part of a team and getting back on track with a healthy and active lifestyle.”

That optimism wasn’t apparent following her medical release in 2009 after a 21-year career in the military.

Sports was her pride and joy, and her downfall.

Whether it was golf, ice hockey, floor hockey, broomball or slowpitch, she was on the team leading them to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) national and CISM (Conseil International du Sport Militaire) championship titles.  She was recognized for her achievement in sports when she was inducted into the CF Sports Honour Roll in 2007 for multiple sports.

“Sports was always a way for me to fit in but when I was unable to participate any longer it became very difficult for me to cope” says the 57-year-old.

Injuries slowly began to plague her, including bulging disks in her neck and knee damage. She underwent two knee replacement surgeries on her left knee, one in 2013 and another in 2014, but recovery was fraught with setbacks including two painful manipulations of her artificial knee. 

“Golf has always been such a huge part of Sandy’s life, so not being able to play the game she loved so much was incredibly hard for her and was having a terrible impact on her,” says Connie Cave, Bate’s partner for the last eight years.

But the doctor’s suggestion of amputation pulled her from despair and galvanized her determination to overcome her injuries.

“Not being active wasn’t an option for me and I became more determined to recover from this.”

Last June she improved enough to return to the greens and become a member of the CFB Esquimalt Golf Association again after three years of rehabilitation. She has adjusted her game to compensate for her weak knees.

Playing other sports isn’t an option anymore as her knee won’t flex past a 90-degree angle.

Bate heard about the Invictus Games during a Universal Studios vacation in Orlando in May 2016 where the second Invictus Games had just been held.

When she returned home she threw her name into the list of applicants for golf, a new sport being offered for the Toronto Invictus Games. Last November, she learned she was one of three female members chosen for Canada’s Invictus golf team.

She is dedicating her participation in the Games to her mother, who passed  away in January 2015, and to her brother Bobby, also an avid golfer, who tragically passed away from brain cancer in November 2016.

“I’ve come full circle and now I’m focusing my efforts towards the upcoming Games this September in Toronto.” 

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