Still a constant

For Meik Briest Düsseldorf is his third Invictus Games after Toronto and Sydney.*

23 years ago, he experienced his nightmare in Kosovo. Sport helped him. Meik Briest has already competed in discus throwing, rowing, swimming and in archery. “Archery supports mental health, promotes co-ordination and concentration,” says coach Dennis Drensek.

The stands of the arena set up especially for the Invictus Games are well filled. Archery has a special fascination not only for the athletes but also for the audience. As each participant competing in the compound placing round is introduced individually, the spectators clap and cheer.

Four targets each are mounted on a board, 30 boards are in the archery arena. The audience can look over the competitors’ heads directly at the targets. At the beginning, four male and female archers compete against each other. Applause erupts from the stands every time they hit the yellow target.

“Archery is part of the whole rehabilitation process, so it’s another stage in getting back to normal life,” explains Dennis Drensek, the archers’ coach. 13 athletes from the German team are competing here. “Archery supports mental health, promotes co-ordination and concentration.”

In the run-up to the Invictus Games, various training camps took place, for example at the Bundeswehr Sports School in Warendorf near Münster, accompanied by the Bundeswehr Sports Therapy Group.

Meik Briest is also standing with his bow in his hand, waiting for his start. He works at the military training area in Altengrabow. He was seriously wounded 23 years ago during a mission in Kosovo.

“Getting back to normal life after that was very difficult. It is still a constant struggle to this day,” he says.

A comrade advised him to do sport. He started swimming and found that sport allowed him to switch off and reflect in silence. “But I can also extend myself and test my limits,” he says. In 2017 he competed at the Invictus Games in Toronto and in 2018 in Sydney. Düsseldorf is his third Games. “Here I give something back to the people who have helped me along the way. By showing them: I can do it again.”

In Düsseldorf, he completed a full sports programme. On Monday he participated in discus throwing, on Tuesday, indoor rowing and on Wednesday, swimming. He came to archery rather by chance. The Warendorf sports school was looking for archers for the military world championships in China in 2019. Meik tried out, did well and was called up to the team. “But no one had told me that the target in China was the Olympic distance of 70 metres,” he recounts. In contrast, the target at the Invictus Games is 18 metres. Nevertheless, he had his first taste, developed himself further in the meantime and pursues the sport with passion.

In the round of the last sixteen, 16 male and female archers compete in groups of two at a table. The concentration with which the competitors draw and shoot the bow is impressive. Nevertheless, fun is not neglected. Richard from the United Kingdom, who competes against the Canadian Bob, wears a Robin Hood hat with a real feather. Just like the famous folk hero, he immediately hits the bullseye with his first shot.

Written by: Monika Hartjes