Invictus Games

Invictus Powerlifting Athlete: 'It's About How Much More Confident I Am'

With the start of the Invictus Games just days away, Forces News has been speaking to some of the athletes from Team UK...

With the start of the Invictus Games just days away, Forces News has been speaking to some of the athletes from Team UK.

72 will compete across 12 sports when the Games kick off in Sydney.

Although most of the team are veterans, Lance Corporal Abbie Kasparis is one of the few individuals currently serving.

She is competing in athletics and powerlifting for the first time:

"It's amazing when you do lift something, it just makes you feel really strong inside, even though you might not feel strong emotionally... When you lift something it makes you feel amazing."

Her journey into powerlifting wasn't easy. She said she first joined a gym in January but got "too nervous and intimidated" in the weights section because of groups of men.

Lance Corporal Abbie Kasparis training.
But since joining Bethnal Green Weightlifting Club, LCpl Kasparis has started to fall in love with the sport.

"My best I've ever lifted is 40 kilos, so we're trying to get me to lift 37 kilos and do more reps of that to try and get above 40," she explained.

Coach Martin Bass said: "Forget the weights, right... The first thing is how much more confident she is.

"When she first came in here, she was a little bit inside herself. It's difficult for anybody, you come into a place like this, you don't know what it's like. 

"All the other lifters treat her with respect - they don't over do it - she gets treated the same way as everybody else and she's just become part of it."

For those taking part, the Games are being used to help personnel with their mental health and well-being, as well as physical.

"It's about looking back where I've come from and seeing my recovery journey and how far I've come and how much more confident I am than I was before," LCpl Kasparis said.

"Recently I've realised in my training, that I can do more than what I think I'm capable of.

"My coaches have really shown that and they believe in me, and I'm just trying to transfer that to everyday life so when there's a situation that I think I can't do something, I have to believe that I can."

The wattle inspired medals for the Sydney Invictus Games (Invictus Games)
This year the Invictus Games will run from the 20 to 27 October (Picture: Invictus Games).

Outside on the track, LCpl Kasparis has also been making big strides in her athletics. 

She is being coached by Roger Keller, who has trained Paralympian and Invictus stars Luke Sinnett and Dave Henson. He said: "I've been working with her since June, she's come such a long way.

"She's done about ten races already and her confidence just grew after every race.

"Quite often they [athletes] don't know how good they actually are or how much they can push themselves."

Training on the track
LCpl Kasparis is set to race the 100-, 200- and 400-metre sprints - although she admitted she had never sprinted before Invictus Games training but has always had a passion for running. 

"I get really nervous when I race - you think, 'why am I putting myself through this?' but at the end of it, I'm so proud for doing it and I want to do it again!"

Team UK will be hoping to beat their tally of 87 medals set last year in Toronto.

The Games are set to kick off on 20 October - Forces News will be providing updates throughout the competition.