Invictus Games ‘on a different level’ to US Warrior inspiration

Alferdo de los Santos

Alferdo de los Santos - Credit: Archant

Famously inspired by America’s Warrior Games, the Invictus Games has taken the idea of a multi-sport event for injured servicemen to another level, according to those who have experienced both.

Alferdo de los Santos

Alferdo de los Santos - Credit: Archant

Former US Army staff sergeant Alfredo de los Santos, Freddie to his friends, won gold in the men’s hand bike IHB2 time trial this morning - four years after a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) blew off his right leg.

Now a full-time cyclist, the New Yorker has been competing for more than two years and is amazed by his transformation.

“It’s hard to believe that four years ago I was going through the worst time of my life,” he said. “Now it’s just the most rewarding experience, being able to compete despite my disability.

“I still have the same drive that I had when I was serving – I’ll never settle for second best.”

Born in the Dominican Republic, Freddie has competed in the last three Warrior Games in Colorado, but believes the Invictus Games are in a different league.

“The Warrior Games are like an introduction to the sports for the guys fresh out of hospital, but this is on a different level,” he explained.

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“It’s more competitive and the competition is more demanding – it’s like a mini Olympics and I love it.

“I think the Invcitus Games will get really big. We never expected anything like this, I’m really impressed.”

Competing at the Lee Valley Velo Park, just metres from where Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton took gold in 2012, Freddie insists the venue has played a key role in the Games’ success.

He added: To see what happened two years ago and to now be in the same environment – to me this is the Olympics or Paralympics.

“There’s more publicity over here and I love the coverage of the media, which makes it an even more rewarding experience.”

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