Tue, 23 Oct, 2018
The heartwarming moment that brought the Invictus Games crowd to tears
The Invictus Games is a tournament that symbolises hope, rehabilitation and creates a wider understanding for those who put their lives on the line to serve their country.
And on Monday, two spirited competitors represented exactly that, with not a dry eye in sight as spectators were left watching the events unfold.
Paul Guest, a British mine warfare specialist, was left frightened and unable to play after a helicopter flying above triggered his PTSD.
The 54-year-old was in the middle of his wheelchair tennis doubles match at Sydney Olympic Park while the incident occurred. Guest, who was injured while serving in Northern Ireland, was so shaken up that he needed to pause the game and regroup.
It wasn’t until his Dutch teammate Edwin Vermetten came to stand by his side to comfort him that he felt at ease.
In an act of pure kindness, Vermetten immediately rushed over to Guest once he understood what was happening.
The Dutch player held Guest by his shoulders and pulled their foreheads together before he began singing in what could only be described as a moment of camaraderie.
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A helicopter flying over the Sydney Olympic Park precinct triggered an immediate emotional response in a British wheelchair tennis player but his Dutch partner who brought him around by singing a Disney movie theme song to him. “For him, this was the moment he let go, and he did, he literally let it all go.” Click the link in our bio to read more about his story. #IG2018 #GameOnDownUnder
Vermetten said it was the song “Let It Go” from the Disney film Frozen that helped Guest recover from his fears.
“I took him by the face and said, ‘Look at me. We are a team so let it go,’” said Vermetten, speaking to Invictus Games.
“’Look into my eyes and sing the Frozen song’, and we did.
“For him, this was the moment he let go, and he did, he literally let it all go,” he said.
Those watching the heartwarming moment unfold were left in tears as they witnessed two men in an embrace, singing to help dismiss their fears.
After Vermetten comforted Guest, the pair went on to win the match in a third set tie break. Despite only meeting a few days ago, the pair have become the best of friends.
Guest was a part of the British Armed Forces and served in Northern Ireland before suffering from injuries relating to his neck and spine during duty in 1987.
The incident resulted in partial deafness and an impairment in his sight, and he was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Guest attempted to commit suicide four times after he was discharged from the Armed Forces, it was then that his wife forced him to seek help.
“On the fourth occasion when I tried to commit suicide, my wife literally dragged me off to get help,” he told The Clacton Gazette.
“She contacted Help for Heroes (a charity organisation that provides support for service men and service women and their families), I became a Band of Brother and the rest is history.
“The Invictus Games has given me something to aim for. Pulling on the Invictus Games uniform is like pulling on my Navy uniform.
“I feel part of a team again, like I belong. I’m proud to be representing my country once again.
“Without Help for Heroes and without the goal of the Invictus Games I honestly wouldn’t be here today. I recently lost a good friend of mine called Michael. He sadly took his own life recently and I promised at his graveside I would never give up.”
And he made sure to stick to that promise after his emotional setback at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre, where he went on to win the tennis doubles match with his teammate.
If you are troubled by this article, experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide, you can call the Depression Helpline at 0800 111 757 or visit depression.org.nz.