The Invictus Games were ‘one of the best things’ this flag bearer has ever experienced

Junior Gosse competed in cycling at the Invictus Games in the Netherlands in April. (Submitted by Ryan Gosse)

Junior Gosse joined the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in Corner Brook a long time ago as a young infantryman in the reserves, but he never forgot his roots.

His years of service in the Canadian Forces culminated in a proud moment in April when the retired soldier was Canada’s flag bearer at the Invictus Games in the Netherlands.

Gosse, from the town of Massey Drive, recently returned from an international sports competition for serving and retired soldiers who are injured, injured or ill.

“The problem with getting into these Games is that it’s not about winning. Just being there and being part of it is what counts,” Gosse said. “Every time there was an event that ended, there was a presentation of the gold, silver and bronze medals. And that was the last thing you heard of. so no countdown, no dashboards.”

Career took a toll

Gosse’s military career has taken him to postings across Canada as well as in Iran and Somalia. Notably, in November 1979, Gosse was one of the military police officers on security duty at the Canadian Embassy in the Iranian capital of Tehran who assisted in the rescue of six diplomats during the hostage crisis in Iran. United States Embassy in Iran.

Gosse, now 66, said his 28-year career in the Canadian Forces left him with post-traumatic stress disorder and other injuries sustained while serving in the military with which, although not visible, it must have lived over the years.

“Before I started, I was struggling. I needed medical intervention for my physical and mental health,” Gosse said.

“The Invictus Games are there to get you involved in the sport and to help you with your recovery. And they certainly did that and far exceeded my expectations of what they could do for me.…It has does wonders for me.”

The Canadian team is pictured at the Invictus Games in The Hague, Netherlands. (Submitted by Ryan Gosse)

Delayed by COVID

Gosse decided to put his name forward to compete after watching previous Invictus Games on television, even though he was not actively involved in any particular sport at the time. Gosse was selected in 2019 to attend but, due to the pandemic, the Games were postponed to 2020 and 2021.

“For me and my teammates, it was quite a tough battle to find practice time or a place to practice,” Gosse said. “It hurt our teammates.”

Gosse said it was difficult to wait for their turn to compete. Some members of the team originally chosen to leave were no longer healthy enough to do so, and one of Gosse’s teammates had died in the years that followed.

Gosse walked the remaining distance of cycling qualifying after suffering a puncture during the race. (Submitted by Ryan Gosse)

Honored to carry the flag

Gosse said a memorable Invictus Games moment was carrying the Canadian flag for Team Canada during the opening ceremonies.

“To be able to carry the flag at a ceremony in Holland, where 77 years ago other veterans liberated Holland, [it’s] an experience that I cannot describe, difficult to put into words,” Gosse said.

Gosse competed in wheelchair basketball and cycling, but he suffered a setback in cycling competition that could have left him feeling defeated. Gosse’s rear tire blew on his bike as he rounded a corner in qualifying, but he didn’t let that stop him, opting instead to cover the remaining 2.5 kilometers on foot, running in racing shoes. cycling. Gosse’s son, Ryan, met him as he approached the final corner and raced with him to the finish.

“There were long applause and loud cheers for me to cross the finish line,” Gosse said.

Gosse also competed in wheelchair basketball at the Games. (Submitted by Ryan Gosse)

son and fan

Ryan Gosse said being at the Games as a spectator with his mother was inspirational.

“For the amount of emotion there was for the contestants, I think it was just as emotional for the friends and family who supported them,” said Ryan Gosse.

Even growing up in a military family, with his mother and father having served and his brother currently serving, Ryan Gosse said he didn’t fully understand the bond members of the military shared until he sees them together at the Games.

“For someone who is a civilian, it certainly sheds a lot of light on the things that the Armed Forces family has to go through on a daily basis,” Ryan Gosse said.

Junior Gosse and his son Ryan Gosse are pictured at the Games. (Submitted by Ryan Gosse)

once in a lifetime

Being part of the Invictus Games was an experience Junior Gosse said he struggled to put into words.

He said it is a unique camaraderie that stems from the fact that all participants share the experience of being injured while serving their country.

And, since current and retired Canadian soldiers only attend the Invictus Games once, Gosse said, it’s a special memory he will cherish for the rest of his life.

“The experience was so inspiring, heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time,” Gosse said. “It’s one of the best things I’ve ever been involved in.”

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