Tackling her fears

Three broken ribs might have derailed most people’s Invictus Games preparation, but not Danielle Hale.

CAPTIONInvictus Games 2023 Team Australia competitor Danielle Hale at the Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation, Narrabeen NSW. Story by Tina Langridge. Photo by Flight Sergeant Ricky Fuller.

If anything, the injuries sustained during heated training sessions have fuelled her desire to contest indoor rowing, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby events as part of Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023.

Ms Hale, who lives in Angle Vale, South Australia, cannot wait to don the green and gold for her country.

“I am so thrilled to be part of this team. When you’re a kid you want to represent Australia and look, here I am. It’s something I never would have believed was possible a few years ago,” she said.

Ms Hale, who joined the Army Reserves in 1989 before transferring to the Royal Australian Navy in 1998 and reverting to the Reserves in 2013, was medically discharged in 2019. She has spinal cord issues, fibromyalgia, depression and suffers from chronic pain.

“I experienced some really bad, low times. I wouldn’t leave the house,” she said.

The turning point in her recovery journey was the addition of assistance dog, Poppy, to the Hale household.

“She’s changed everything and helps me physically and psychologically,” she said.

“She helps me with balance; helps me when I fall. She can even go to the kitchen and get my medicine and water bottle.

“If it wasn’t for Poppy, I might still be stuck inside my house.”

Instead, Poppy’s support saw her venture outside the four walls of her home and investigate the Invictus Pathways program at the University of South Australia.

It was here she tried her hand at wheelchair sports for the first time and, while it took some time for these sports to grow on her, she confesses to loving them now and even competes in a social wheelchair basketball league outside her Invictus involvement.

The added bonus of social connections, particularly with her Invictus team members, means a lot to Ms Hale.

“There are lots of different stories here and when people are ready to share their stories, there is always someone ready to listen. Meeting new people and understanding where they’ve come from makes you feel less alone,” she said.

Supporting her on her Invictus journey will be her husband, Wayne, who serves in the Navy, and son Luke.

Having them with her in Germany makes her emotional.

“My son is 15 and he has seen his mum in and out of hospital since he was two years old,” she said.

Danielle has just completed a Diploma of Sport through the Richmond Football Club’s partnership with Swinburne University of Technology.

“I’m hoping he will be proud of what I’ve done and where I’ve come from; that maybe he can see beyond the illness,” she said.

“This Invictus Games experience is something I can give back to them. It as much for them as it is for me.”

The Invictus Games are an international sporting event for wounded, injured and ill serving and former-serving military personnel. The games use the power of sport to support recovery, rehabilitation and generate wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country.

About 500 competitors from 21 nations, along with about 1000 family members and friends, will make the trek to Düsseldorf this September.





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