A retired Military employees sergeant who suffered a devastating spinal wire harm has made pals with Prince Harry and is now representing his nation as a member of Crew US on the fifth Invictus Video games.
Joel Rodriguez, a retired air visitors controller, is one among 65 United States veterans who’re competing in opposition to greater than 500 service members from 20 totally different nations on the Hague within the Netherlands this yr.
He first began enjoying wheelchair rugby simply two weeks after a devastating automotive crash that left him with a fractured neck and a extreme spinal wire harm, derailing his Military profession and leaving him in a wheelchair.
Now, he’s serving because the co-captain of the Crew US wheelchair rugby.
‘Lots of people would have thought these are the playing cards I am dealt, that is what I get and I’ve to dwell with this and possibly have sort of taken it slowly by means of life,’ At this time Present host Hoda Kotb stated in a sit-down interview with Rodriguez and Prince Harry, which aired on Wednesday morning.
‘You probably did the whole reverse, man, you went all the best way in.’
Rodriguez, a married father-of-one whose spouse is called Liannie, replied: ‘You stated playing cards, and that is humorous, as a result of when my spouse got here to see me, in all probability the day after my surgical procedure, she stated “Are you OK?” And I stated “These are the playing cards I have been dealt, I’ve to play them.”‘
‘And I am nonetheless doing it, that is all we are able to do.’
Along with serving on the Crew US rugby group, Rodriguez can also be competing within the wheelchair basketball, wheelchair racing, swimming shot-put and discus tournaments at this yr’s video games, the place he might be cheered on by his spouse, five-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter.
‘To see Joel and his household flourish in moments like this, it means every little thing,’ Prince Harry, who based the worldwide sporting occasion for injured and disabled veterans in 2014, instructed Kotb within the interview.
Joel Rodriguez, a former US Military employees sergeant, described his love for wheelchair rugby in an interview with At this time Present host Hoda Kotb earlier than he competes because the co-captain of the Crew US wheelchair rugby group at this yr’s Invictus Video games, which had been based by Prince Harry
Rodriguez served in the US Military till a devastating automotive crash in 2014 left him with a spinal-cord harm
Rodriguez’s time within the US Military was derailed by his harm, which left him in a wheelchair
Rodriguez has been competing in wheelchair rugby tournaments for the previous 5 years, having joined a group shortly after his accident.
‘I discovered quad rugby, thank God I discovered it, in all probability two weeks after my harm,’ he recounted to WJLA. ‘I nonetheless had my neck brace on and I checked out my spouse, and I stated “I am enjoying this,” and she or he stated “completely not, you are not enjoying this” as a result of she was seeing guys flip over of their chairs, the hits.
‘Lengthy story quick I have been enjoying it since,’ he stated, calling it the ‘finest remedy I can get.’
‘Mentally, enjoying rugby has been nice,’ Rodriguez instructed the Military in 2018. ‘It offers me the possibility to be round individuals in the identical predicament as me and provides me the motivation to succeed, and seeing them succeed as effectively.
‘It additionally helped me discover my aggressive edge and mindset once more.’
That yr, he and the remainder of Crew USA earned a bronze on the 2018 Wheelchair Rugby World Championship.
Rodriguez then went on to win two gold medals on the 2019 Division of Protection Warrior Video games for each seated shot-put and seated discus.
Now, he advises different disabled veterans that ‘there’s life after harm.’
‘We’re in an age the place your incapacity has nothing to do with what you are able to do,’ he stated in 2019, advising others to ‘Discover one thing you’re keen on and work onerous at it.’
‘Simply attain out to your native [Warrior Transition Unit] and ask them for assist and hopefully they get you in the correct course, and get you concerned in adaptive sports activities.’
DailyMail.com has reached out to Rodriguez for additional remark as he prepares to compete within the wheelchair rugby semi-finals.
Rodriguez began enjoying wheelchair rugby shortly after his accident, and in 2018 his group earned a bronze on the 2018 Wheelchair Rugby World Championship
He has additionally discovered success in shot-put and seated discus, each of which he’s additionally competing in at this yr’s Invictus Video games
Rodriguez might be cheered on at this yr’s video games by his spouse, five-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter (not pictured)
The Invictus Video games had been based by the Duke of Sussex in 2014 after attending a US Division of Protection Warrior Video games the yr earlier than.
There, he noticed how sporting occasions ‘will help bodily, psychologically and socially these affected by accidents and sickness, in accordance with the Invictus web site, and had hoped to convey an analogous worldwide sporting occasion for disabled veterans to the UK.
‘It is objective, ,’ the prince instructed Kotb within the unique interview.
‘This, the Invictus household is the continuation of service,’ he claimed, noting: ‘A lot of the game helps and therapeutic them as the person after which as a household.’
This yr’s video games began on Saturday, and can proceed by means of Friday.