The Warriors of Wheelchair Rugby: Helene Le Scelleur
Written By: Chris Perotte
The Invictus Games, the brainchild of Prince Harry, is a sporting event for men and women who have served their country in the armed forces. Last week we shared some lines from the poem “Invictus” written by William Ernest Henley. This week we offer more of the poem that inspired Prince Harry to create The Games:
Wheelchair rugby is an intense and fun sport for all to participate in, whether you have a challenge or not.
Forty-four year-old Helene Le Scelleur from Val-des-Monts, Quebec, participated in her first Invictus Games in Toronto this past summer. She is an able-bodied individual, but she has fallen in love with wheelchair rugby. Le Scelleur was first introduced to wheelchair rugby while training in Victoria, British Columbia in April 2017 at an Invictus Games training camp. Prior to the Invictus Games training sessions, Le Scelleur had never sat in a wheelchair. She became accustomed to unique style of play, enjoyed the speed of the sport, and discovered that she was actually quite good at it. She soon realized that wheelchair rugby was her new favourite sport.
During the wheelchair rugby matches in Toronto, Le Scelleur played the Inbounder and Offensive positions.
Helene Le Scelleur served 26 years in the Canadian Armed Forces. Her career began in the Infantry and she later served as an administrative clerk. She was commissioned to become a health care administrator officer in 2002 and finished her career as a social worker.
For Le Scelleur, being a part of the Invictus Games meant stepping out of her comfort zone. “For me, the Invictus Games was the spark that I needed to push myself forward and out of isolation,” explains Le Scelleur. “It was the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and try new things like wheelchair rugby. The games were out of this world, but overall, it’s all about the journey and how we are using that wonderful opportunity to become a better version of ourselves.”
To be a part of the Invictus Games in Toronto was a dream realized for Le Scelleur. She applied to participate in the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida, but she was not accepted. She tried again, submitting an application to participate in the Invictus Games to be held in her home country. When Le Scelleur received the acceptance letter, she was excited and blown away to finally have the chance to be part of these games. Seizing her opportunity, it was important for Le Scelleur to choose a team sport to participate in for The Games.
The Invictus Games 2017 was held from September 23rd - 30th in Toronto. Le Scelleur was given the opportunity to participate in a multitude of sporting events at The Games. There are two memorable moments created during her week in Toronto that Helene now cherishes.
“I am torn between two moments. First, it was qualifying for the finals in athletics, which I did for all of them (100m, 200m, 400m, 1500m). That was my goal for that sport and I was able to perform to that level and achieve what I thought would be impossible 10 months before,” shares Le Scelleur. “But one of the highlights of my games is when I flipped over an Aussie guy! (Daniel Jeffrey),” Le Scelleur laughs. “That was another goal for me, to be able to flip someone at a rugby game.” After the match between Canada and Australia, Le Scelleur received the Roughneck of the Game honours in recognition for her ability to flip over players and toughness in getting knocked down herself.
The Invictus Games in Toronto went well above and beyond Le Scelleur’s expectations. She feels truly blessed to have been a part of the games. It was an experience she described as magical. From the support of her family to the volunteers, coaches and supporting staff, everything was amazing during her journey through the Invictus Games in Toronto. She will never forget her time and experience at the games. “The friendly competition and all the great friends I have made from other teams around the world, but mostly the new bond we have within Team Canada. It’s a new family – it’s our brotherhood,” says Le Scelleur.
Le Scelleur hopes to compete in the Invictus Games in 2018 which will be held in Sydney, Australia. She has submitted an application and hopes to be accepted. Her goal is to be the next Captain of Team Canada. “I do believe that my journey will inspire others and that I can be a really good guide for the new athletes coming in,” says Le Scelleur proudly.
As the “Invictus” poem states:
To be continued: The Warriors of Wheelchair Rugby.