Victory for ICE Trike riders at the 2023 Invictus Games in Dusseldorf
Veterans from all nations competed again in Dusseldorf at the Invictus Games. Over 500 competitors from 21 nations around the world competed in adaptive sports events for the whole week. With the 6th Invictus Games in Düsseldorf, the goal is to give soldiers who are wounded, injured or ill in body and soul a greater awareness and recognition in society and to support their path in rehabilitation.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex official opened the games, Prince Harry and Meghan. Competitors from many nations including Team UK, Team Germany and Team USA all rode competitively on their ICE Trikes.
Kelly McVitty, vice captain for Team UK, won gold in the recumbent criterium race and time trial. Benjamin Theiss from Team Germany won gold in the recumbent time trial and silver in the criterium race. Gregory Quarles from Team USA, took gold in the criterium race and silver in the time trial.
You can read more about Kelly, Benjamin and Gregory below. ICE are incredibly proud of all our riders and what they achieve riding their trikes. Keep up the good work guys and keep spreading the word that if you put your mind to it, anything is possible!
Kelly’s McVitty - Team UK
I joined the Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service in 2003. I went onto specialise as a critical care nursing looking after people on life support. Many years of my service I spent working at the Royal Centre of Defence Medicine where injured servicemen returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. I also completed 3 tours of Afghanistan in 2008, 2010 and 2012. When I wasn't on tour I was on call for several months of the year for the Critical Care Air Support Team. Being on call meant that you had two hours notice to move and fly to anyway in the world to retrieve the critically ill military patient and nurse them back to the UK. The majority of our missions were to Afghanistan.
It was during one of these missions in 2012 that I was in a ambulance accident. I had landed at the airport and I was transferring the patient in the back of an ambulance to the hospital. We had police outriders in front and behind to close the road off for safe passage. Unfortunately another road user didn't see what was happening and cut up a police outrider causing the ambulance to do an emergency stop. At the time I was working on the patient and just sitting back down. I was thrown sideways hitting my left side of my body and briefly losing consciousness. After composing myself and feeling OK to carry on we continued to the hospital. It wasn't until the day after that I woke up with pins and needles, unable to move. Eventually things settled and all my symptoms were isolated to my left upper body. My symptoms are hard to describe but they range from daily nausea, pins and needles, lethargy, neck and jaw tension and hypersensitivity. These symptoms are exacerbated when using my left side and these can last for several weeks at a time.
An MRI showed that I had oedema of the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a network of nerve fibres that supplies the skin and musculature of the upper limb. I was also diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome which is a group of disorders that occur when blood vessels and nerves in the space between your collarbone and your first rib (thoracic outlet) are compressed. In 2017 I had surgery to remove one of my neck muscles and first rib to try and relieve the compression I was having of both my artery and nerves. Unfortunately my nerve symptoms never improved and in 2020 I was medically discharged from the military losing not only my job in the military but also as a critical care nurse. I have had to learn to adapt my life to fit with my injury both physically and mentally. It's hard to accept at times, especially when on the outside I look physically able.
When I knew that the military would be discharging me I started looking at courses and events I could go to to see what I could do in the future, outside of the military. One of these was going along to the Invictus Games trials to learn about adaptive sports. I used to be a keen golfer however my injury stopped me playing as well as many other sports I enjoyed. I eventually stopped many activities as the pain I felt afterwards wasn’t worth it. I lost all enjoyment in keeping fit until I went along to the trails where they showed me how to adapt sports to my injury.
The Invictus Games is the creation of Prince Harry. It is an international multi-sport event which was first held in 2014, for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, both serving and veterans. The aim of the games is to demonstrate the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and demonstrate life beyond disability.
In 2019 I was lucky enough to be selected for the Invictus Games Hague 2020 however a few months later I found out I was pregnant and had to withdraw from the games. In March 2020 I moved to Spain just as lockdown happened as the warmer weather is better for my symptoms. In the June 2020 I gave birth to my son Jaxon which was unfortunately a trauma birth resulting in us both nearly losing our lives. Thankfully we are both here and fighting fit however it was a long recovery.
In April 2022 I watched the people I had been selected with taken part in the Hague. It made me so proud however I was so upset that I hadn't managed to take part. This spurred me on to apply for the Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023. I attended the trials but this time I wanted to try out cycling on a recumbent. I hadn't been able to ride a bike since my accident as holding onto the handle bars on a regular bike exacerbated my symptoms. It was a revelation trying out a recumbent bike. It had been over 10 years since I had last ridden a bike so I was very emotional and excited finally getting some speed up and zooming around the track. Plus my son is now at an age where he is starting to ride a bike so being able to cycle means we can go out together in the future.
In January 2023 I received the amazing news that I had once again been selected. I couldn't believe my luck, I broke down in tears not realising just how much I needed this in my life. I think that moving countries, leaving the military and having a traumatic birth with a slow recovery all through covid had left me feeling lost. This is now my chance to start rebuilding me.
A few weeks later before we revealed to the world who the team was I was given the incredible honour of being Vice Captain for Team UK. The Invictus Games Foundation means a lot to me as they celebrate the achievements of injured, wounded, or sick service personnel and veteran's. They provide an inclusive environment that provides abundance of support and encouragement.
I'm honoured to be a part of this incredible event and it's a privilege to have the opportunity to represent my country and be with other military personnel who have gone through similar experiences. I will be representing Invictus Games Team UK in Dusseldorf, Germany and competing in one armed swimming, recumbent cycling and one-armed athletics.
Currently I spend my days in Fuengirola training with my husband to build myself up cycling over to Benalmádena and back. I love my ICE Trike Sprint and the freedom I have cycling. It's exhilarating after having not ridden for over a decade. I have also learnt that recumbent bikes can go up hills, the best bit is that they are even better to ride downhill. I'm still early on in my journey when it comes to recumbent bikes but I am loving the fact that I can ride a bike.
I want to spread the message that whatever your physical or mental disability there is a sport out there for everyone to do. There are so many adaptive sports and clubs out there and I hope that my story can inspire others to try some out.
Benjamin Theiss – Invictus Team Germany
In 2005 I started as a paramedic in the German Armed Forces. Between 2007 and 2013, I was deployed several times abroad. During my assignment in 2009/2010 with UNIFIL/Lebanon, there were several events that later resulted in PTSD. After a few years of trauma therapy, I was accepted into the rehabilitation program of the German Armed Forces in 2017. That's when I started exercising again. Unfortunately, there were always setbacks in rehabilitation. First, my shoulder had to be operated on due to a sports accident. Then I had to undergo urological surgery several times and last year I had a severe herniated disc in my cervical spine, which also had to be operated on. Again and again, the surgeons told me what I could no longer do.
In the rehabilitation program of the German Armed Forces, however, the doctors told me what I could do to use sport for rehabilitation again. That's how I got into recumbent trikes. Since I realized how good trike riding is for my head, I bought a simple recumbent trike myself in 2020.
With the possibility of trike riding, my rehabilitation has progressed more and more. In the meantime, as a career soldier in the Bundeswehr, I am a career consultant for people who are interested in a career in the Bundeswehr.
Last year, I was asked by our rehabilitation centre if I could imagine participating in the Invictus Games 2023. Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that my recumbent trike was not suitable for a competition. That's why the German Armed Forces lent me a VTX ICE trike for training and competition this year.
The fun of driving the VTX motivated me again and again to train and in the training camps at the sports school of the Bundeswehr I was able to increase my performance this year.
On the bike competition day at the Invictus Games, everything fit. Good trike, highest motivation, will to fight, good preparation and a great atmosphere among the fans. I was then rewarded with a gold medal in the individual time trial and with 1 second behind the first, in the criterium race with the silver medal.
Now it's time to continue on my rehabilitation path. I would like to continue on my way with a VTX, but unfortunately, this is not financially possible at the moment. My next goals are to compete next year at the newly founded Invictus Germany organization and then to participate in the RIDE 2 RECOVERY multi-day event (Project Hero) in the US. The long-term goal is my 2nd participation in the Invictus Games.
Greg Quarles – Invictus Team USA
I’m a retired U.S. Army Airborne Ranger. I was injured in Afghanistan on my 8th deployment. My injuries came from being shot and blown up. After many spinal surgeries and others, I found adaptive sports. These sports led me to being chosen to compete for Team USA.
This year's Invictus games were bittersweet, as they were my second and last games as a competitor. I competed in the time trial and criterium race. I ride a 2018 ICE VTX. I have upgraded it from a mechanical Shimano 2x11 speed to a SRAM ETap 1x12 speed. At this year's games, I placed second winning silver in the TT and first winning Gold in the criterium race. This race meant so much to me as it was my last ever Invictus Games. I absolutely love my ICE VTX!
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