With the Invictus Games in full swing, and the British pairing of Alex Krol and Andy McErlean making the final, our man in Orlando, Cain Berry, blogs for the Tennis Foundation about the incredible experience.
Day 1: I AM Inspired.
The Opening Ceremony officially kicked off the Invictus Games 2016, and it was incredibly inspirational. The collective spirit and atmosphere created by athletes, staff, friends, family, and sport fans was hugely inspiring. Speakers such as Prince Harry and Michelle Obama set the tone for the Games, but it was the personal accounts told by injured serviceman which stole the show. The emotional individual stories told left a lump in the throat and a tear in the eye of all those in the stands. The dominant emotion was not one of sadness of the past, but inspiration of what can be overcome and achieved through determination and dedication, from never giving up. Such a powerful message raises questions about how far we can push ourselves to achieve something which first appears out of reach. It has certainly got me thinking…
Day 2. I AM liking what I see.
I get my first site of the ESPN Wide World Sport facility, and like the vast Disney complex, it is amazing. The size, the number of quality facilities, the welcoming volunteers and staff all ensure a great platform for the Games. In addition to all that, ESPN is broadcasting the events live on ESPN 3, as well as providing comprehensive highlight shows throughout the day – the Americans are putting on a great show, setting the bar high for future hosts.
At the facility, we spend time supporting UK competitors in rowing and archery, including our very own Gus Hurst winning 2 rowing golds. Unfortunately, earlier on in Tennis, Gus and Luke Sinnott lost in the QFs against a strong pair from New Zealand, but put in a battling performance, so it is great to see them both performing well in other sports.
Alex and Andy had won their QF in a tight match against USA, clinching the match in a tie break. They were back in training in a high quality session with coach Kev Simpson. Both guys were hitting very well, looking in great shape and seem well prepared for Wednesday’s upcoming semi-final vs the Dutch pair. Kev was reinforcing the importance of serve and return, to allow the guys the opportunity to get on top of the point, and the boys followed the script, looking impressive.
Day 3. I AM losing count of medals!
Another training day for us in Tennis, but a busy day of medals in other sports, with Gus and Luke heavily involved. In athletics, Gus took silvers in discus and shotput. Luke strapped on his blades and won gold in the 400m and silver in the 100m. Later that day, medals were up for grabs in sitting volleyball, GB winning a tight SF vs Georgia, but narrowly lost to USA in a nail-biting final to take silver.
Back on the tennis courts, it was a fairly light session for Andy and Alex… a sensible approach given the mid 30 degree heat! A highlight for the team was being looked after by Carlos Goffi, John McEnroe’s coach – a top guy, with some great anecdotes!
DAY 4: I AM thrilled
Fantastic news today that Andy and Alex defeated the Dutch pairing 6-2 to make the final! It was a great match with some real quality and a great advert for the sport. They will face New Zealand in the final, the support here has been incredible and hopefully it will help the guys in to gold. Hopefully you can catch some of it on the BBC at home and cheer us on!
Highlights of the wheelchair tennis will be shown on BBC ONE on Thursday at 8pm. Find out more information here.