There's a saying "when the going gets tough, the tough get going", and that spirit is at the heart of the Invictus Games.

The games are a global sports competition for military personnel recovering from physical or mental trauma - such as Corporal Jason Sturley who's in the New Zealand Army logistics regiment at Linton, Manwatū.

Sturley joined the army following a career as a mechanic, firefighter and a commercial pilot.

In 2007, on a peacekeeping mission to the Solomon Islands, Sturley lost a leg.


"We all go through tough times," he said. "All I can say is draw deep."

Sturley has done just that, and is part of New Zealand's 25-strong team to compete at the Invictus Games in Sydney in October.

The Invictus Games is the brainchild of Prince Harry who saw a need to help injured military men and women move on with their lives, without being defined by their injuries.

"It gets you back to the point of all dimensions physical and mentally. So you become a team player, and it gives you a skill set to carry on beyond the games."

Sturley played fullback before the accident that took his leg. Now he is in the New Zealand wheelchair rugby team which requires a different training for the fast-paced game.

"It's now being mentally prepared and looking for the quick passes," he said.

"It's a lot of work and a lot of energy control so that your chair is not knocked out of the court."

The Invictus Games is not just for those military personnel injured in action.


PJ Harimate spent most of his working life in the army driving combat vehicles, but two and a half years ago he was diagnosed with cancer.

It hit him hard emotionally, and of course physically after being blasted with chemotherapy and radiation.

"Like other cancer sufferers when they're going through chemo the side effects are horrendous," Harimate said.

He says no injury or illness is black and white.

"Everybody's journey is different," Harimate said. "They start differently, they may be at the end of their journey, they may be in the middle or at the start."

As for the man who developed the Invictus Games, Sturley has met him twice.

"I met Prince Harry at the 2014 Invictus Games in London," he said. "He's amazing, really honest, is genuine and has integrity.

"Being an ex-serviceman he understands, and takes the time to talk with you."

The Invictus Games wheelchair rugby team will compete in Round 2 of the NZ Wheelchair Rugby championship tournament at Arena Manawatū this weekend starting at 9am with the finals on Sunday.

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