#13 – Marcin Staniszewski teamcaptain Germany Invictus Games 2020

It will be Marcin Staniszewski’s second Invictus Games. He previously participated in Toronto, in 2017. The captain of the German delegation can still vividly remember his stay in Canada. “Everything made a huge impression on me. Now as the leader of our team, I will try to prepare everyone as much as possible. It shouldn’t be too overwhelming; you have to enjoy participating in The Hague.”

By Edward Swier

Good friendships

Staniszewski is still impressed by what he saw, did, and experienced in Toronto. “Whether it has changed my life. Yes, it has. It was really great to experience the camaraderie there. I have created and kept some good friendships from that Invictus Games edition. Guys from different countries with whom I still keep in contact with, whose daily progress I still follow on Facebook. It is wonderful to see people from America, Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany together, not fighting. But competing on the sports field. That has changed my view of the world.”

Employed within the Defence

He already saw a lot of the world while he served. Staniszewski, who is first lieutenant, was sent to Afghanistan, Turkey, Djibouti. And after the Invictus Games, he will be sent out on a mission again to Mali.

Things went wrong in Afghanistan. He got injured, had to undergo several operations on his knee. And is still not done with treatment. “I am waiting for a new knee. It will happen one day, it has to. But I am trying to postpone it as long as possible,” said Staniszewski.

“After 17 years, I am still under arms, as an MP officer in charge of special investigations. I can still do my job despite my injury. Actually, just like all the athletes who participate at the Invictus Games on behalf of Germany; we are all still employed within the Defence. This is partly because we have no veteran system in Germany, unlike many neighbouring countries.”

The German team

Staniszewski will solely focus on cycling at the Invictus Games. The time trial and the criterion are his preference. “I used to have nothing with cycling, but nowadays cycling is really my passion. That is partly because cycling is actually the only sport in which I can exercise without knee problems. Although in The Hague I will also participate in some athletics components, such as the 100 and 200 meters and perhaps also the long jump.”

Marcin Staniszewski – 36 years old, married and “crazy about my bulldog” – heard in mid-February that he would become team captain. “It is a great honour, especially because the team chose me. It is nice to become the link between the staff and the athletes; I am looking forward to that. I think it will mainly be my job to help the debutants in our team, to make them enjoy the Invictus Games. There is a risk that you will be overwhelmed by the Invictus Games. As I have experienced it, I know what to expect, which can probably help preparing for it better. Personally, I thought it was really overwhelming in Toronto.”

The German delegation consists of 19 athletes, including 1 female participant. “Although few women are coming, we are a very mixed group. We have athletes ranging in age and people who have experienced different things. We come from the various branches of our armed forces and many different ranks are represented. In addition, there are a couple of debutants, but also three athletes – including myself – who have participated in the Invictus Games in Toronto and three participated in Sydney.”

The German team will not only have Family & Friends supporting them in The Hague. Thanks to the support of a civilian German non-profit organization, a number of buses will also be driving to the Netherlands daily for supporters. Around 250 German fans get the opportunity to visit the Invictus Games. “This makes us feel really good, that extra attention.”

Preparing

The German team can prepare for the Invictus Games peacefully. Two serious training camps were planned at the Sportschule der Bundeswehr in Warendorf. “The gym of the German armed forces is really beautiful. There is also a great psychotherapy practice there. We have the ideal conditions there. And the great thing is, the complex is open to everyone.”

“If we are in Warendorf we train together. Then there is a lot of training on team components and of course there are also sport-specific coaches. We then get a lot of tips. Additionally, training schedules are made for us to take home and do there. Germany is quite big of course; we are not all around the corner. So, it makes sense that we do part of the preparation individually.”

Moreover, although Staniszewski hopes to be able to excel in The Hague, he does not necessarily believe it is about the medal. “We are all very aware of that. It is about the experience, about gaining confidence. This training, the therapy that some of us receive, it is healing us.”

Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2022

Finally, he is very pleased that the Invictus Games of 2022 will take place in his own country. Düsseldorf made a successful attempt to be the next organizers and therefore may organize the event after The Hague. It will, according to Staniszewski, mean for a huge boost in awareness in Germany. “Nowadays the Invictus Games are still very well known among military personnel. We try to spread our message more and more efficiently, but that takes time. That Düsseldorf is now the host city is a big step forward. Now we will be able to get through to people more, explaining that it is not like the Paralympic Games. That it is not really about the medals, but about the therapy, about the recovery. That especially confidence can be gained at the Invictus Games. I think we can bring that awareness up in the coming years.”

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