“A Taliban rocket team hit our vehicle.”
Adam Cyr experienced the attack in 2008 during a tour in Afghanistan. The explosion threw him out of the vehicle and fellow members of his platoon dragged him to safety during a firefight.
“I was knocked unconscious for half a second after the initial blast and I remember coming to in the air … and I was on fire,” he said.
“Three of my guys were killed, five of us were injured. I lost my leg below the knee.”
While he laments the loss of life and limb, Cyr who now sports a prosthetic leg, refuses to dwell on the negative, finding solace in sport.
“I still have issues with my leg … and still have my bad days. But one thing I notice is if I can’t do physical activity, that’s when the depression starts kicking in … and your quality of life diminishes,” he said.
“The one thing through my recovery that has honestly, verifiably been helping me is physical fitness.”
By chance, a friend introduced him to the Invictus Games, an international multi-sport event created by Britain’s Prince Harry for wounded military service men and women. Cyr randomly put his name in the hat, got selected for Team Canada and by chance discovered the squad has a gym in Colwood, where he introduced himself to Team Canada captain Bruno Guevremont.
“(The Invictus Games) give purpose and a way to connect with others (who suffer from) illness and injuries,” Guevremont said.
“It’s kind of like a Paralympic Games for ill and injured soldiers.”
Guevremont, who served 15 years as a navy diver, with two tours in Afghanistan on the counter-improvised explosive device team dismantling bombs, has also been affected by post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Like Cyr, he refuses to allow it to hinder him and uses sport and fitness to heal.
“I’ve found a way to get back on track and how to be a productive member of society and deal with mental health,” he said. “You don’t have to be paralyzed or weighted down by this mental illness. You can heal and learn to cope better with physical fitness.”
A 30-member Canadian team will compete in the 2016 Invictus Games, hosted May 8 to 12 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.
Guevremont will compete in indoor rowing and seated volleyball, while Cyr will do indoor rowing and archery. The two are among five athletes from Vancouver Island, all of whom train at Guevremont’s Crossfit Stasis gym in Colwood.
Cyr says his motivation doesn’t come strictly from a desire to win or accomplish any set of achievements. It’s about the process.
“It’s just finding out things about myself. I’m proud of knowing I can do these things; self-doubt and all these things are cancer to where you want to be. To recognize self-doubt creeping in and push it out of the way, and being able to work through it, is what I am most proud of,” he said.
“There are certain things that you have to modify the way you do them, but there is nothing you can’t do – the only disability is a bad attitude.”