Clearance diver ready to shine at Warrior Games

Department of Defence

Navy clearance diver Captain Doug Griffiths said cancer changed his perspective on life for the better.

This positive outlook has allowed the 53-year-old – diagnosed with a rare non-Hodgkin lymphoma variant last year and now battling a second chronic terminal disease – to push himself to successfully apply for a place in the 30-person Australian team participating in the Warrior Games in Florida.

The Warrior Games is an annual adaptive sports competition highlighting the exceptional physical skills and mental toughness of wounded, injured and ill service members from the US military, along with competitors from Australia.

Despite having “very bad days”, the Canberra-based father of one is pragmatic about his health.

“People have said, ‘you’re really positive about this’ but what other choice do I have?” Captain Griffiths said.

“I could have made a choice; I could have sat on the couch or laid in bed and moaned and said ‘woe is me’ and looked at all the negatives in life, or I could start to approach life with a completely different view and make all moments count.

“I know I’m not always going to be fit and healthy enough to enjoy life, but while I’ve got the opportunity to enjoy it, to embrace opportunities, to put myself out there and try, I’m going to do it.”

Sport was the obvious complementary medicine in Captain Griffiths’ battle against lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma and AL amyloidosis.

Being active has played a huge part in his life, with involvement in triathlons since 1986 and representing Australia at the 2004 and 2005 long course world championships in Sweden and Denmark.

He said sport now offers him the opportunity to regain some normality in his life.

“I knew my career was already being taken away from me and I knew that my future in the ADF was going to start being taken away as well,” Captain Griffiths said.

“With the way my health was deteriorating throughout my treatment, the likelihood that I’d have to give up on other things that I like – training and competing – was fast becoming a reality.

“The opportunity to do something with adaptive sports to keep the camaraderie that I was losing, by losing my career and 35 years in Defence, was a goal to work for.”

That goal was reached when Captain Griffiths was named in the Australian side to compete at the Warrior Games in the US, now under way until June 30 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Captain Griffiths will take part in cycling, numerous swimming and track events, and the lesser-known sports of indoor rowing and sitting volleyball, which he describes as “a hoot”, playing alongside a tight-knit team of current and former-serving Defence members.

“We’re males, we’re females, we’re previously enlisted, we’re officers, we cover all three services and all career streams,” Captain Griffiths said.

“I think the commonality is Defence, but also that everyone’s searching for something.

“I still haven’t worked out what that is, but I think what this gives us is the opportunity to grow as an individual [and] as part of a team. It’s that value of team over self and being able to help your mates through.”

/Public Release. View in full here.