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Mark Berry of Ellenbrook is trying out for a spot in the Australian road cycling team at the Invictus Games later this year. Picture: ANITA McINNES

Mark Berry on track for Games

MARK Berry of Ellenbrook suffered post-traumatic stress disorder while serving his country, now he is trying to win a place in Australia’s Invictus Games team.

Using the power of sport, the games aim to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the men and women who have served their country.

While serving as an engineer with the Australian army Mr Berry was deployed to East Timor twice.

When he left the army he worked for maritime border protection as a non-commissioned police officer where they were on the lookout for asylum seeker boats – they did not see any – and illegal fishing boats, which they did see.

He was part of the boarding party filming the boarding as it happened.

Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he was discharged in 2010.

At his lowest he was hospitalised with suicidal ideation also known as suicidal thoughts.

Now he is a stay-at-home dad with three young children.

In the past two years he has made good progress getting his life back together.

On Thursday, May 10 Mr Berry and fellow ex-serviceman Chris Coote of Ellenbrook were due to take part in an Invictus Games camp in Adelaide.

Both men are trying out for selection in the Australian road cycling team for the Invictus Games to be held in Sydney from October 20-27.

The Invictus Games have been described as an Olympics for ex-servicemen and women who often have to deal with life-changing injuries, including psychological ones.

Mr Berry said focusing on getting selected for the games helped people like him recover their health.

While in the army people did physical training three days a week and also played brigade sports so they were used to the structure of team sports.

He said the Australian Defence Force was encouraging participants to choose a team sport to play once a week.

“Even if we don’t make the Invictus Games team it’s giving us all something to do,’’ he said.

“Then the idea is to join a local sports club in the area and get back into the community.’’

But some ex-servicemen and women worry about how they will be received by the public as some have obvious wounds.

He said trying out for the games had given him more to focus on than just staying fit.

But he would not have been able to do it without his wife Stephanie’s support.

As well as road cycling the Invictus Games will include archery, athletics, indoor rowing, Jaguar land rover driving, power  lifting, sailing, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby.

These adaptive sports closely resemble the standard sports but with some modifications to the rules and equipment to better meet the needs of the competitors.

By Anita McInnes

About Anita

Anita Mcinnes received a highly commended in the 2009 WA Media Awards suburban section for her reporting. Two of her sons were born at Swan District Hospital and for many years she was a partner in a small business, which operated in the Gingin-Muchea-Bullsbrook area. As a mature age student Anita studied journalism at Curtin University before working in Busselton, Dunsborough and Rockingham with West Regionals. She says the best part of her job is meeting eastern suburb residents and visiting the many attractions in the area.

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