Proud to be back in uniform

When Tricia Reynolds cheekily said she applied for the Warrior Games just for the team tracksuit, she was only half joking.

CAPTIONWarrior Games 2024 competitor Tricia Reynolds at the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, ACT. Story by Flying Officer Tina Langridge. Photo by Flight Sergeant Ricky Fuller.

The uniform symbolises everything she misses about her former life in the Air Force – representing her country, being part of a team, the camaraderie amongst colleagues – which is why she is unapologetically proud at the thought of donning the green and gold.

Except for a chronic hip injury that resulted in a total hip replacement at age 39 and a medical discharge in March 2020, Ms Reynolds admits she would still be in the service today – probably as a military working dog handler, which she did for the majority of her career.

She would probably also still be active in the Muay Thai kickboxing world, a sport she discovered after playing basketball and lacrosse as a child.

“Unfortunately kickboxing and a bad hip don’t go together that well so I had to find something else,” Ms Reynolds said.

“I found archery after not being able to do any of the high-intensity sports that I wanted to do, and now that I’ve found it, it’s my passion.

“I bought my compound bow with the specific goal of representing Australia at either the Invictus or Warrior Games.

“When I’m on the range and I’m concentrating on what I need to do, I forget about the pain and anything else that might be distracting me.

“The sport gives me a sense of belonging from an archery community perspective but, as I’m very competitive, the fact that I can practise on my own and still compete against myself – trying to beat my scores, trying to do better each time – resonates strongly with me.

CAPTIONTeam Australia’ Tricia Reynolds (right) competes in the archery event at the Warrior Games 2024. Also competing is Nigel Coutts (centre) and Luke Manhire. Photo by Flight Sergeant Christopher Dickson.

“At Warrior [Games] I won’t be focusing on the competition as much as I will be concentrating on competing against myself.”

While in Florida for the games, Canberra-based Ms Reynolds is also competing in precision shooting and wheelchair basketball, the adaptive wheelchair version of the sport she played as a child and during her service.

She is supported by her husband, mother Raelene, and Alabama friends Ashley and Kerrie, who all recognise the significance of her selection in Team Australia.

“Travelling overseas to represent your country is huge. They’ve seen the improvement in my mental health since the selection camp and have noticed how much happier and more active I am. They’re so pumped,” Ms Reynolds said.

“As for me, I’m loving feeling part of a big team again. I can’t wait to watch everyone compete and do their best without judgement from anyone, just full support.

“The people I’ve met so far on this journey are just some of the most amazing human beings. It really makes me appreciate what I’ve got when I look at what others have been through in their lives.

“If I had to sum up this whole experience in one word, it would be gratitude.”

The 2024 Warrior Games are running until June 30 and bring together hundreds of wounded, injured and ill serving and former-serving military members from Australia and across the US to compete in a range of adaptive sports.


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