When Alexander Krol won the gold medal in wheelchair tennis at the 2016 Invictus Games, there was just one thing missing.
His little boy, Xander.
Krol competed for the United Kingdom last year at the games in Orlando, but his son, now 14-months old, was yet to be born.
Just over 12 months later his family is on hand yet again here in Toronto and this time, Xander is right there with them to share that golden moment with his father and his partner, Kevin Drake.
They defeated New Zealand 6-4 to claim the gold on Monday evening.
“My wife Jayne was pregnant at that time so the little one wasn’t yet here but my mom and dad came out to that one,” said Krol, after his wheelchair tennis victory at Nathan Philips Square in Toronto.
“It’s just extra special to prove to the little fella what I am capable of and show him what kind of mentality I’ve got.”
Krol, a former member of the Royal Marines, was injured in a road traffic accident in 2005 leaving him with no movement or sensation below his chest.
The word Invictus is a Latin term meaning “undefeated” or “unconquered” and the 35-year-old is one of 550 athletes across 17 nations who compete in these Games to express these very virtues.
“My only boy only knows wheelchair Al and I’ve been injured for over 12 years now,” Krol said. “I’m just trying to show him the type of character that I was when I was younger and I hope he takes that mentality and takes it on in his life.”
It was an emotional moment for the family and it was clear that Jayne could not have been prouder when speaking about her inspirational husband and what he has accomplished.
“I think he trained even harder this year with Xander here to prove that he can do it again and be a really good role model,” said Jayne, with a tear in her eye.
“It means everything to him and he got emotional at the end because it meant so much for him to perform in front of his son and to be able to tell him about it when he is older.”
After his experience in the Royal Marines, Krol often ponders if Xander will someday take interest in following the path of his military father.
If he does, Krol says he will be right there to support his son, just as Xander is supporting his father right now at The Games.
“I have thought about it a lot and it’s an acceptable risk and obviously as a parent and a father I would be gutted about the risk but if that’s the way he wants to live his life then I’ll let him go for it and if it’s in him then he’s going to do it.”