Of course Mickaël would have liked to have been in the Netherlands this week, the team captain of the French team was very much looking forward to the Invictus Games. “There is nothing better than to spend time with friends, with other participants, brothers in arms, your family and the volunteers. But unfortunately it is not possible this year. We’ll have to wait until 2021.”
By Edward Swier
Like everyone else, Mickaël was ‘quite disappointed’ when it became clear that it would remain quiet in the Zuiderpark in The Hague from 9 to 16 May 2020. Like so many events, the Invictus Games could not take place because of the Covid-19 outbreak. “But it was a logical decision. The coronavirus has presented us all with a lot of challenges. We don’t train together now, but take care of our families and loved ones. We will take up the Invictus challenge at a later date, training with even more dedication. Although for some people that will of course still be quite a challenge. The situation has not become easier for everyone. On the other hand, everyone secretly has an extra year to practice their sports”.
Mickaël and his French colleagues started the joint training in October 2019. “We trained very specifically on the different disciplines for about nine weeks. After that we rearranged the groups each time and looked for the optimal cohesion. In this way, we managed to form a very close-knit team in a relatively short period of time”.
Contacts are now mainly through WhatsApp. “It’s no different. It’s logical that everyone now mainly cares about their family members. We await the messages from the government. If the government and the military authorities give us the opportunity to get back together, we will certainly do so. But, unfortunately, we can’t say anything about that now, at the end of April, beginning of May. It’s just important that everyone at home continues to do what’s necessary.”
As team captain, Mickaël tries to keep a lot of contact with his teammates. That’s not always easy, every member of the team has his or her own interests at heart. “We’re with 24 athletes, including 2 women. The team is made up of people from the Army, the Air Force, the Navy and the Gendarmerie. I’m very proud and honoured to have been chosen to fulfil the role of team captain.
“The team captain is an integrated member of the team, but has additional responsibilities. He or she keeps close contact with each team member. I make sure that something is adjusted if necessary, represent the team to the outside world, and can, for example adjust, slow down or correct where necessary. That sounds like a lot of work, but actually it’s not really necessary with this incredible team”.
Why Mickaël was chosen? Of course, at first he says we should ask someone else. But then he reluctantly gives some reasons. “It’ll probably be because I speak reasonable English. And already have some experience with the Invictus Games.”
Mickaël took part in the Invictus Games in Sydney, in 2018. “I participated in a lot of disciplines there, it was an incredible experience. And not only because I went home with four medals!”
In The Hague he will also participate in various sports next year. On the athletics track he will be in action on the 400 and 1500 meters, in the swimming pool he might swim the relay. Then he will also play in the French wheelchair rugby team. Above all, Mickaël is looking forward to the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge. “I won that part in Sydney.”
Which will also count: although only 30 Mickaël already has a long military experience. “I started my career in the Air Force in 2007, as a commando. I was 17 at the time. I have participated in many missions all over the world. Four years ago, in one of those missions, I was seriously injured on my left leg by an explosive. After almost 2 years of rehabilitation, I have refocused on a new future. I’m currently working at the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe.”
Invictus Games 2021
Mickaël himself has been in our country twice before. That he has to wait a year longer for the third time, he has now accepted. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel like it. The goal of the French team is also to make the most of the time we will have later on this wonderful event in The Hague. We are looking forward to meeting other participants, colleagues from other countries. For example, lately we have been building up a lot with the Belgian team, which will debut at the Invictus Games in the Netherlands. We thought that was a great experience. As we also count on a great experience in the Zuiderpark. The anticipation, the training, the participation itself; it is going to support us all very much during our physical and mental recovery. We are very much looking forward to surpassing ourselves.”