© Getty Images / Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023
With dachshund Daisy
under the bar

Brit Martha Prinsloo has a very special lucky charm.

Raw iron is moved during powerlifting at INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing. Even from the supposedly “weaker sex”. Weak? Are you kidding me? Are you serious?! The performances and the competition community in the MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA are inspiring.

The stage is the only thing illuminated, as the bass from “I’ve Got The Power“ booms from the speakers. The iconic hit from Snap fits perfectly to powerlifting, one of the first competitions at the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing. But what’s really unusual is that a dachshund is right there with us.

Because when Martha Prinsloo drives towards the bench in her wheelchair, Daisy sits on her lap. Not even one metre travelled without her dog. Shortly before her lift, her trainer takes custody of the dachshund. Martha lies on the bench, is strapped in and fixes the entry weight – 50kg. She lifts the bar, almost effortlessly it seems.

The former paramedic from the East Midlands in Great Britain is one of two participants using a wheelchair in the 12-strong field at the MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA. Each starter has three attempts. The starting weight can be freely chosen. The final placings are then determined based on the weight achieved, and the competitor’s category of impairment. 

Shortly after Prinsloo, teammate Kenetha Franklyn comes to the stage, also using a wheelchair. It is decorated with two flags and the Union Jack adorns her tights. She gives a thumbs up to loud cheers from the audience. They became even more euphoric when Yuliia Paievska, the Ukrainian medic who has saved hundreds of wounded and was taken prisoner by Russia, makes her first attempt. She achieves 25kg and then 30kg, a feat enthusiastically celebrated in the warm-up area.

“It’s an incredible feeling to compete here with people from all over the world, who I’ve known from afar for some time,“ said Martha Prinsloo. Participants have been connecting over Facebook, but they’re only meeting in person for the first time in Düsseldorf. It’s no longer relevant who has achieved the heaviest weight.

Martha enjoys the competition, and the sport has also helped her to become more open and engaged with society again. “I was holed up in my house for a while. But now I no longer have problems with being around other people. I’m obviously regularly at the gym or the swimming pool, which I wasn’t able to do for a long time,“ explained the former paramedic, who spent time on service in Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia, among other places.

© Getty Images / Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023

© Getty Images / Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023

The Brit enjoys the competition in Düsseldorf because of “this crazy energy, it’s almost ecstasy, an unbelievable experience.“ She expects a similar atmosphere at the swimming on Wednesday. She is also registered for archery.

Meanwhile outside, the outcome in the IP3-IP5 has been decided. Australia’s Erin Brigden takes gold after lifting 82kg. Martha Prinsloo is also very satisfied with her performance. Before the Games her personal best was 52.5kg. In Düsseldorf she set a new one – 56kg – to finish in fifth place. And the perfect way to celebrate? By raising her arms, with dachshund Daisy on her lap.

Author: Oliver Bitter