#4 – Team Denmark is going to do their utmost

Uffe Christensen and his 23 Danish buddies are going to do their utmost. “The goal? Become as good as possible. Full of enthusiasm. We don’t have to win, as long as we do our best.” The 22 men and 2 women who Denmark will be sending to The Netherlands in the spring, will do their utmost. “We are all looking forward to it.”

By Edward Swier

Uffe Bjerregaard Christensen knows better than anyone that the route to The Hague is still full of bumps. “We all do our best, for sure. But there are also circumstances that sometimes make it a little more difficult to do so, resulting in not being able to train as much as you would want to. Sometimes there are days when it seems like my head is exploding. With the help of others, you have to learn to deal with these circumstances. We try to prepare ourselves for it, to focus on what we can expect. And ultimately, we are all convinced that, we will come back stronger.”

Christensen leads a group of 24 PTSD members. All of whom have sustained mental injury while performing their military duties. As a member of the Royal Guards, Christensen experienced difficult times during a mission to Eritrea at the end of the last century. However, he had the worst memories of Kosovo (2008). In 2017 that came out. “I had a major breakdown.”

He has been at home ever since. Like many others from the Danish Invictus team. “Many are too sick to work.” Looking for a way in which to fill his days, but mostly for a way to recover, Christensen discovered the Invictus Games after colleagues introduced the thought to him. “I immediately embraced the idea of getting better through the use of sports, to find the right direction thanks to friendships with others.” It really helps to process your problems, to take steps. It is wonderful to share your experiences with people who understand what you have experienced, what you are going through. They understand that sometimes you will react a little shocked, or perhaps react more intensely to noise.”

Lost all self-confidence

He signed up as early as 2018, but the Invictus Games from Sydney came too quick. “I also had to come out of a deep pit, I had lost all my self-confidence. I was about to become a major when everything collapsed. As a captain, I was ‘chief of operations and plans,’ I arranged a lot for many people. But suddenly I couldn’t even take care of myself anymore. It is not strange that it will take a while before you get yourself up and running again. But now I can say that things are moving in the right direction.”

That was noticed. Because Christensen made a positive impression at the joint training sessions. “It was a big surprise when they asked me to become a team captain. I had noticed that I also tried to help others. And that when we would meet, I was in a good mood and sometimes even funny. At the try-outs I literally actually got up.”

Involving family

Christensen explicitly involves his family in the Invictus Games, as is also emphasized by the organization. “I am really happy that I am going, that I am doing better. My goal is to be roughly who I was before I was hit by PTSD and to be a better father and a better husband. My family is also looking forward to the trip to The Hague.”

Since September Christensen has known that he will lead the Danish team as team captain. “Of course, you want to arrange things as early as possible. Right? As a person with PTSD, I have learned that it is important to have a schedule. After all, you react more agitated to things that suddenly change, that suddenly come your way.”

Cycling and archery

He will participate in two sports in The Hague: cycling and archery. “Playing sports is amazing.” The Danes are preparing both individually and as a team. “Of course, everyone trains by themselves and in their own time. And we have planned five weekends in which we will all train together. Moreover, it is very much encouraged to register at a local association, near your place of residence. For example, I became a member of an archery club. I am a newbie to the sport; therefore, it is good when others give me tips. I now go to the indoor location to shoot two or three times a week.”

During those visits to the archery club, he tells others about the Invictus Games. Christensen does his best to tell the story of the event and that of him and his colleagues, as accurately as possible. “Of course, the Invictus Games have been known among veterans and soldiers. But the event is also gaining popularity among the Danish population. A short feature film has now been made that fills us with pride. We are on the right track, of course, social media also helps, but there is still a long way to go. It is important that people really understand why we participate.”

Exciting journey

Of the 24 Danish participants, 20 are joining for the first time and four were already in Toronto or Sydney. They were selected from a pre-selection of 36 veterans. Those who will not be joining continue to train at the Danish Veterans Center, so that they may be able to participate in the next edition. The Danish Minister of Defense, Trine Bramsen, had encouraging words for both the participants and the non-selected at one of the joint training sessions. “For those travelling to The Hague, it will be an exciting journey – both sports-related and personally. I look forward to following the team to The Hague from the sidelines. And I hope that those who are not among the 24 selected can still enjoy the experiences they have gained along the way. And that they too benefit from the support they receive to achieve their personal goals.”

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