Games give wounded soldier another chance
Kelly Whittle believes in second chances.
After surviving deployment to a war-ravaged Afghanistan during a conflict that claimed five of her comrades in two weeks, the New Zealand Army corporal and former Gore woman has plenty of reason to.
Whittle suffered serious hip injuries while picking up an injured Afghan soldier in 2012 and a shoulder injury not long after.
Rather than let it bring her down, she counts it as one of the most defining experiences of her life.
"It changed me a lot. I came home - I have that second chance. I look at life differently now."
Now, Whittle is gearing up for another challenge - the Invictus Games in London from September 10-14.
Whittle and another former Southlander, Chief Petty Officer Medic Amy Baynes, are the only competitive women in the 12- strong NZ Defence Force team heading to the inaugural games.
The event, which is championed by Prince Harry, is an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.
Whittle likens the event to the Commonwealth Games. With 400 competitors from 14 teams of defence force personnel from around the world, it's no small feat, she said.
It gave soldiers a chance to show that, even if they had lost a limb or suffered some other life-changing injury, it would not stop them from doing things, she said.
Whittle will compete in a range of sports, including road cycling, javelin, shot put, discus, wheelchair rugby and sitting volleyball. She was also signed up for a couple of sprint events but "we'll see how that goes", she said.
While the experience of competing was the main thing, Whittle said she definitely felt that competitive edge coming into play.
"I want to win something. I don't want to go over there and come home with nothing."
The Southland Times