“Sport is the most important thing that helped me regain my balance after the accident,” says Corporal Mańczak. He joined the army in 2006, and as a private, he served first on a minesweeper, and later in the 16th Air Assault Battalion. “I liked parachute jumping, I did twenty parachute jumps before the accident,” he tells his story.
In 2009, he went on his first mission, the 5th rotation of PMC Afghanistan, where he was a driver. During service he was heavily wounded, when the ICED exploded under his IFV. He remembers nothing about the accident, his fellow soldiers told him later what exactly happened. Part of his thigh was torn, his spine fractured, he went through 26 operations, and a three-and-a-half-year rehabilitation treatment. Today, he has 27 screws in his spine and legs.
„All this time during my health recovery I was thinking I wanted to go back to active service,” he recalls. He had his chance when the new category was introduced: “capable for military service, with limitations.” Mariusz Mańczak took classes for NCOs, and today serves as a junior staff NCO in Military Staff in Katowice.
He adds that, after accident, sport – particularly swimming – was the form of rehabilitation training for him. Then, after a three-an-a-half-year break, he returned to the gym as he used to train since he was 20. “Sport literary put me back on my legs, it also helped me mentally,” he says. In his opinion, after this kind of accident, it is good to find your passion and work hard to excel in it, because it gives you a reason to leave the house. For him, sport is such a passion.
His colleague talked him into competing in the Invictus Games. He counts on scoring high in archery and swimming, as he has had very good results during training. “Discus throw is the most difficult for me, as it takes not only a lot of physical strength, but also good technique, and I don’t have any training place in Katowice,” Mariusz declares. The only opportunities he has had were the meetings organized by the Ministry of National Defense in the Military Training and Conditioning Center in Mrągowo where the trainings are conducted by qualified personnel. He also emphasizes that, when he decided to participate in the Games, he did not realize it was such a great event, with such considerable audience. “Competing in such immense international games is quite a challenge,” he admits. He also says that it is a chance to show to other injured veterans that even the most serious injuries can be overcome. “If, as a soldier with a 100% of health impairment, I will be successful, I will motivate others,” he hopes. The participation itself as well as sporting rivalry are both important for him, but he also thinks about medals. “Winning a medal would award my effort and hard training.”
Health impairment: 100%
Missions: PMC Afghanistan 5th rotation
Discipline: swimming, archery, light athletics (discus throw), bench press
autor zdjęć: Michał Niwicz