Bendigo ex-servicemen Craig Hancock and Peter Barrett headed to Invictus Games

​AUSTRALIA'S 43-strong team for the Invictus Games will include one Bendigo-based Afghanistan war veteran.

Craig Hancock will again represent his country - this time in the sporting arena - in powerlifting and indoor rowing at the September 23-30 games in Toronto.

He will join 550 athletes from 17 allied nations around the world competing in Canada.

The multi-sport Invictus Games were founded in 2014 by Prince Harry for wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans.

Hancock is a veteran of three tours of Afghanistan.

The 30-year-old suffered a broken back on his first tour in 2008, when the victim of a roadside bombing.

He did two more tours of Afghanistan and two more of the Solomon Islands, his last coming in 2012, before being discharged from the army in 2015.

These Invictus Games will be his second after he won gold and silver medals in rowing at the inaugural event in 2014.

More than 180 athletes trialed for the team earlier this year, which was eventually cut to 43.

Hancock said the games helped wounded, injured and ill servicemen and ex-servicemen - many who were doing it tough - to rediscover their fighting spirit.

He said while the competition was friendly, it was also fierce.

"You really want to win," he said.

Hancock is a late convert to powerlifting and rowing, having only taken both up in recent years.

"I was keen on rugby and water-skiing as a young fellow and then I joined the army and really smashed into rugby," he said.

"After I got hurt I had to give up rugby and through rehabilitation I started hitting the gym, trying to keep fit that way.

"But the competitive side never left me, there was just nowhere to really pursue it until London 2014 when I made the games team."

Hancock, who is now employed at Bendigo-based defence contractor Thales, won't be the only Bendigonian in Toronto.

Veteran athletics coach Peter Barrett has been appointed as a coach of the 19-member track and field team.

The ex-servicemen and 20-year public service worker with the Department of Defence has been coaching athletics for nearly 30 years.

He said he rapt to be back working with defencemen and women.

"It's stimulating to work with people like Craig and others, in helping them achieve their sporting goals," he said.

"A lot of (the athletes) have injuries that are unseen, from deployment and afterwards.

"There's a 21-year-old girl with MS on the team and another who is 28 and has a brain tumour - and a couple of girls who were in bad vehicle accidents while serving.

"It's just a really good medium for men and women to get their life back together - not just the sport, but mixing with other people."

Barrett and Hancock welcomed the support of the Australian team, including financial, from the Bendigo District RSL.

Hancock hoped his involvement with the Invictus Games might inspire other wounded or ill servicemen to use sport as a motivator for their rehabilitation.

"For a lot of people the games are means to prove to themselves and everyone around that you are still in the fight and not out of it," he said.

"You are still capable of doing a lot of things after injury."

The next Invictus Games will be staged in Sydney in 2018, with Hancock eager to retain his place in the Australian team.

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