The Invictus Games had a late entry into its sitting volleyball competition. One that has shown everyone just what the Games are all about.
Comprised of players from four nations — Romania, Ukraine, Denmark and the United States — this mixed team formed when another country was unable to compete in the event.
“We don’t even know whose idea it was to start this team,” said Team Denmark’s Eric Larsen. “I was told they wanted to put together a mixed team of players from different countries, and I thought that’s an opportunity I can’t say no to.”
Everything came together at the last moment. Their coach, Melonie Allin, is from a local club in Toronto, and the Durham Attack Volleyball Club, who is coached by Invictus Games Sport Organizing Committee Chair Chris Williamson, agreed to sponsor their jerseys.
“It was the most special and important moment of the last several years of my life, to be playing with all these guys from different countries,” said Eric.
Dubbed “Captain America,” American Nate Hamilton was elected Team Unconquered captain. One of the competitors even scratched his cycling event so he would be able to play with the team.
Skill levels varied among the players, and they only met just two days prior to their first match. With only 90 minutes of training time together, they managed to beat Canada in straight sets in the third and final game.
“We’re a model of international cooperation; it’s completely within the spirit of the Invictus Games,” said Eric. “I think it would be fun for Invictus to consider doing this for future Games — to have mixed teams from different countries play [sitting] volleyball together.”