Q&A with Italian powerlifter Andrea Tomasello

14th September 2014


14 September 2014

Italian Andrea Tomasello admits that the Invictus Games inspired him to return to sport after suffering a life-changing injury while serving in Afghanistan.

The 33-year-old lost a leg in an Improvised Explosive Device blast near Kabul in 2008 and now lives just outside Rome with his wife and three children, still serving in the Italian army.

Tomasello was a keen sportsman before he sustained his injuries and made his return to action at the Invictus Games, presented by Jaguar Land Rover, competing in the powerlifting and wheelchair rugby.

And we caught up with him on day four to hear what he thinks of the event.

What does the Invictus Games mean to you?
I took the Invictus Games as the beginning of a new life for me. When I was injured I did not do any exercise for quite a long time, but now I have started again because of the Invictus Games. This experience has been great and very emotional for me.

Have you always done powerlifting?
No, I was a boxer before the injury. I spoke to Prince Harry in Monte Cassino a few months ago, and I told him that maybe for the next Invictus Games there can be sitting boxing, so maybe I will have that challenge.

How did you suffer your injuries?
I was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device blast in Afghanistan near Kabul and injured my right foot and left leg.

My shoulder was also broken, as was my jaw. That was in 2008 and now I have started a new life thanks to the Invictus Games.

Have you been surprised about how much support there has been this week?
Yes I have been hugely surprised about it. I didn't think so many people would come here to watch us compete.

I played wheelchair rugby on Friday and the Copper Box was packed. Everybody was on their feet and screaming for us.

How important has sport been in the recovery process?
Sport is very important for me. At these kind of competitions you can meet other people who have the same problems as me.

It doesn't matter if they are Italian, English or Dutch, we are all soldiers and brothers and for these few days we feel like we are normal because we are all together.

What is next for you?
I will carry on powerlifting for sure, but I have only been training for these Games for a few weeks. I will continue to train for that and wheelchair basketball because it is fun, it is hard work and I am proud of my achievements.

In November I have the Italian powerlifting championships in Palermo to maybe qualify for the Paralympics. Hopefully next time we speak I will be the Italian champion.