Bronzed Aussies ultimate fighting force


Australia’s Wheeling Diggers ended the final day of the wheelchair rugby competition on a high at Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023.

A hard-fought game against France saw the teams matching each other try for try in the bronze medal match in front of a vocal crowd at Merkur Spiel-Arena’s centre court, closing out the first half with the Aussies in front by a single point on 10-9.

The green and gold managed to stay in front throughout the second half, ending up victors with 20 points to France’s 17.

In the words of Aussie captain, Lenny Redrose, and hundreds of family, friends, teammates and random strangers in attendance: “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Oi, oi, oi.”

“It’s been very humbling,” two-time Invictus Games competitor Lenny said. “As a team, we grew through all our games.

“At the end of it, we had all our fans there still chanting. It still gives me goose bumps. And that’s what it comes down to.

“As Aussies, we are very loud. We’re larrikins. And I think we’ve proved again that family and friends are very, very important. That’s what got the team to where we are.”

The Wheeling Diggers captain said the team had learned a lot – from last year’s early training camps right through to this week’s pool matches and semi-final – thanks equally to team coach and Warrant Officer of the Navy, Andrew Bertoncin, and each player’s sheer determination.

The road to the bronze started yesterday with a loss and two wins, before the team reached today’s quarter-final against Team Unconquered, a team created to allow nations of all sizes the chance to compete in team sports.

Comprising players from South Korea, Ukraine, USA and UK, the Aussies dominated with a 16-7 win before progressing to the quarter-final against Team USA. The Americans were too strong on the day, coming out on top 24-5, pushing the Diggers into the bronze medal match against France.

Team USA went on to take out the gold medal game against UK 21-13.

Lenny’s Invictus journey is a story of overcoming adversity on multiple fronts. After battling addiction and a devastating tumour diagnosis, he walked into surgery and came out the other side with spinal cord damage from the chest down.

Seven years on, Lenny is now an inspiring picture of positivity and hope. Competing in his second Invictus Games in as many years, training and sport is where he has found his raison d’etre.

“The lead-up to The Hague was prolonged and then there was a really quick turnaround for these Games,” he said.

“So for the last five years, this has been what I’ve been doing. I feel like Invictus is my family. I don’t want to stop this; even in the capacity of a coach, or a volunteer. Whatever it may be, I’d love to still be a part of it.

“My unconquered story is the ‘Smiling Cripple’. And that’s perseverance, a cycle-breaker, someone who’s never given up. I’m here; I’m doing it. If I can, anyone can.”

Monday 11 September also saw the athletics competition wrap up, with more strong results from competitors in the green and gold.

Alex Jay rocked back onto the track in style first up, winning her heat in the women’s IT7 (0) 200m with a time of 32.67s. She improved on that time by 0.4s in the final, running 32.27s to place third and earning Team Australia a bronze medal.

She picked up a second bronze in the women’s IT7 100m final, running 15.14s behind two American competitors.

Meanwhile, three Aussies lined up in their respective shot put events.

Able Seaman Jamie McGlinchey threw 10.37m in the men’s IF4 (0) shot put final to place sixth among a field of 17 competitors.

Yesterday’s golden girl, Ainsley Hooker, did it again, throwing 5.58m in the women’s IF5 shot put final and picking up first place and a gold medal to boot.

Karney Armstrong also put her game face once more, throwing 5.37m in the women’s IF8 shot put final and placing second for a silver medal.

Meet the Australian Team at or follow them on Facebook.

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