HELPING TEAM UK TO VICTORY
As the Official Fundraising Partner of Invictus UK we are very proud to pledge our support to Team UK competitors from across the country. Involvement with the Invictus UK programme is a life changing experience and the significant mental and physical health benefits can be translated outside of sport and into everyday life.
Sport plays a powerful role in inspiring the recovery and rehabilitation of men and women who were injured or became sick as a result of their service. The Invictus UK programme uses the power of sport to inspire the recovery and rehabilitation of men and women who were wounded, injured or became sick during their service. The programme also recognizes the important role of competitors’ friends and families, providing a network where they can meet others in a similar position and support the recovery journey of their loved ones together. Ultimately, the Invictus UK programme empowers competitors and allows those who once served their country to proudly wear the Union Jack again.
Following selection, the Invictus UK programme prepares the Team UK competitors to compete through a series of regular training camps between October 2019 – May 2020. National Governing Body high performance coaches are available across all 9 sports. As well as focusing on developing their sport performance, the competitors are encouraged to set individual goals to maximise the benefits of the recovery experience. This may also include identifying their wider needs for support, outside of the world of sport.
Family plays a hugely important role in the recovery process and is a unique strand of the wider Invictus Games programme. The selected team’s family are provided with a network of support where they can meet others who are in a similar position, further understand their competitor’s journey and watch them gain a sense of achievement.
65 competitors and 6 non travelling reserves have been selected to represent Team UK at the Invictus Games The Hague 2020. The road to the Games will be an opportunity for Team UK to accelerate or maintain their recovery, and for some, to begin a journey that may take them into high performance sports programmes. Invictus UK’s vision is to always select a team to represent the UK that consists of individuals who will seize the recovery opportunities presented to them, compete hard, demonstrate an Invictus Spirit and go on to become advocates for the power of sport in recovery. These individuals have been chosen based on a selection criterion that focuses on their potential recovery benefit, their performance, their attitude and their commitment.
The team will compete in nine sports: Athletics; Archery; Wheelchair Basketball; Cycling; Powerlifting; Indoor Rowing; Wheelchair Rugby; Swimming and Sitting Volleyball. They continue to train from now until May in various locations across the country as part of Help for Heroes’ extensive Sports Recovery programme and role to train and develop the team.
“We are delighted to welcome Team Ethos as our official fundraising partner. Team Ethos has proven to be a powerful force for good over recent years in helping to fund sport, challenge and adventure in the Armed Forces in an ethical and compliant manner. In particular, they have supported many groups that use the power of sport to assist rehabilitation and enhance the recovery journey for WIS service personnel and veterans. Their track record makes them an ideal partner.”
Rear Admiral Jim Macleod, Head of Invictus UK
The Invictus Games The Hague 2020, presented by Jaguar Land Rover, will host the fifth Invictus Games from 9-16 May 2020, bringing together over 500 competitors and 1,000 friends and family from 19 nations to compete in a series of adaptive sports across the city in the Netherlands over the course of a week. The Invictus Games is a powerful demonstration of the dedication our men and women displayed when they served our country. It is a celebration of how they confronted hardship, but refused to be defined by their injury or illness. Team UK will be joining the 18 other nations to achieve personal bests, meet new friends and celebrate a week of achievements with the people who love them the most.
Meet some of TEAM UK
TEAM UK Captain
While playing for a RAF team, Rachel received a rugby injury, which developed into a functional neurological disorder, and she ultimately lost the ability to use her arm completely. She almost gave up on fitness forever.
She said: “This year I aim to build the new me and take the final step to where I want to be. I’ve accepted my injury; learnt I can let my emotions go and not be embarrassed or afraid about asking for help. So far, my recovery journey has taken me from rock bottom to laying down a new foundation, this year I aim to build the new me and take the final step to where I want to be. I’ve accepted my injury; learnt I can let my emotions go and not be embarrassed or afraid about asking for help which I couldn’t have done without the help of Team UK this last year. “Now it’s time I raise the bar by trying new sports, being positive and happier with less excuses. The Invictus Games offers an amazing opportunity through sport to regain that sense of pride which can be lost following the onset of mental or physical disabilities. Sport empowers us to refocus our attention on what we can do, rather than what we can’t. To be selected as Team UK Captain is truly an honour and I feel immensely proud to be given this opportunity.”
Rachel will be competing Athletics, Swimming and Indoor Rowing at The Invictus Games The Hague 2020. Rachel will be supported by her two Team UK Vice Captains; RAF Veteran Kelly Leonard and Veteran Cpl David Morris.
TEAM UK Vice Captain
Kelly, a former RAF Physical Training Instructor, and now a Community Paediatric Physio for the NHS, had a motorbike accident which almost led to her having her foot amputated.
As a child, competitive sports were a major part of Kelly’s life. But since her accident, the former RAF Physical Training Instructor let her injury define her. She lost focus on sport and her physical and mental recovery suffered. It left Kelly with complete loss of confidence and self- belief. Yet through the Invictus journey, she is surrounded by people who do not judge but understand, talk and offer support. The Welsh 41-year-old living in Shropshire said: “They have empowered me to achieve the best I can be. The UK Trials was a turning point in my life, I am back competing and I want more. I have started to believe in myself and was proud to show my children, who have never seen me without disability, that with self-belief you can accomplish anything. I have dreamt of representing my country at the highest level, something I thought would never be a part of my life again.”
Kelly will be competing in Cycling, Swimming, Wheelchair Basketball, Wheelchair Rugby and Indoor Rowing at The Invictus Games The Hague 2020.
TEAM UK Vice Captain
David, a Corporal in the RAF since 2000, was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder following an incident in 2011 while serving as a survival equipment specialist with the Red Arrows.
He admitted the illness made him scared of his own shadow and reluctant to leave the house.
Selected as one of the Reserves for the Invictus Games in 2018, David went on successfully to represent Team UK in Sydney. “The power of the Invictus Games is hard to describe to people; it has to be seen to be believed. The benefits have dramatically changed my way of life and how I cope with situations in general.”
Focused and committed to continue his recovery journey, in addition to his application for the Invictus Games Hague 2020, David adds “I have already planned and focused on some major events, to give me something to work towards and keep my outlook positive..” “I’m so lucky to have been given this second chance at life and it’s thanks to the Invictus team, my coaches, Help for Heroes, Royal British Legion and my amazing family and friends. Without them, this would not be possible.”
David will be competing in Athletics, Sitting Volleyball and Swimming at The Invictus Games The Hague 2020.
TEAM UK Competitor
When Gillian was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, it was a complete shock. She never had any health issues and was at her peak fitness when the diagnosis came. “I had just been selected for promotion…then life stopped! Following my treatment, I expected to get back to ‘normal’ immediately. That was almost a year ago and I have found that the ‘normal’ I craved hasn’t been quite as straightforward to achieve.” Gillian, 40, stopped all physical training following her diagnosis which has resulted in chronic back pain and referrals back to the hospital for nuclear bone scans to ensure the cancer hasn’t returned. Her medication causes fatigue and joint pain. “I have been plagued with dark thoughts, convincing myself that the cancer will return and I will have to leave my children. Becoming involved in Invictus has demonstrated to me that I don’t need to go back to that ‘normal’ but that I can re write my script. I nearly cancelled; I nearly gave up on my recovery. I cannot explain how thankful I am that I didn’t. To be part of such a supportive community was invaluable. I feel that I’m now ready to start moving forward thanks to Invictus.”
Her overall goal is to utilise the support of the Invictus community to rebuild her own sense of self identity; cancer took a huge chunk of that. Already a keen powerlifter, Gillian had always been afraid to dive into a swimming pool but decided to face my fears and give swimming a try at the sports camps. With the encouragement of her Invictus team-mates, she achieved her first ever dive. “It was incredible. knowing that I had overcome a 40-year mental block was hugely empowering. My goal is to fully overcome that fear and dive into a pool and swim a decent length, at the Invictus Games.”
Gillian will be competing in Powerlifting, Swimming and Indoor Rowing at The Invictus Games The Hague 2020.
Meet some of the competitors who served their country by representing Team UK at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018
In 2009 while serving in Afghanistan, Michael was injured by an Improvised Explosive Device resulting in the loss of both legs above the knee. Then 19 and serving with 3 Rifles, he also suffered shrapnel wounds to his arms.
Following rehabilitation at Headley Court Michael’s focus shifted to challenging himself through sport. He discovered a passion for handcycling and received £5,500 in grant-funding from Help for Heroes for specialist kit.
In 2017 he was selected as part of the team taking on one of the world’s toughest endurance cycling events, the epic Race Across America (RAAM). The team passed through 12 states, covering over 3,081 miles and climbing in excess of 170,000 feet before finishing in Annapolis, Maryland.
In 2018 Michael was selected to represent Team UK at the Invictus Games in Sydney where he gained two gold medals in cycling.
“It feels like it was, back in the Army,” said Michael, “supporting one another. We’ve all got strengths and weaknesses and the Invictus Games gives a great opportunity to work on them.”
Spencer served as an officer for 29 years in the Army where he completed several tours of Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kuwait. Tragedy struck in 2005 when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and by 2011 Spencer was struggling to walk. Spencer has suffered degeneration in the last few years and was medically discharged in 2017.
The former Lieutenant Colonel credits sport for making a positive effect on his life: “It gives me the chance to manage my condition and make my children proud of what their father has achieved. I want to ‘inspire’ them.”
Joint Vice-Captain of the Sydney 2018 UK Invictus team, Spencer is passionate about what the Games represent “I don’t think we should focus on medals. That’s not what it is all about. You work at your personal best and if you achieve that, it is fantastic. If there had been a theme at the Games, it was very much friends and family – a way of saying thank you.”
Spencer adds: “The Games are all about overcoming adversity. It is about normal people doing extraordinary things.”
In 2003 Kelly Ganfield was serving as a young Army Corporal when she was diagnosed with a blood disorder that triggered a series of strokes, eventually leading to medical discharge from Service. She spent the next 10 years learning how to live with the repercussions of her brain injury and in 2014 Kelly approached Help for Heroes for support.
Within months Kelly was taking part in things she never thought possible and was selected to represent the UK in Toronto in 2017. In 2018 Kelly joined Team UK to compete in Sydney where she achieved a silver medal in the 4 x 100m relay and completed the 100m and 200m with guide runner Mikail Huggins, as well as competing in the long jump and indoor rowing.
“It is an honour to be part of this process and to have represented my country again. My recovery journey is focused around finding a new identity and confidence, accepting my disabilities, inspiring others, and moving forward. I lost my career, but I have found something beneficial to fill that void.”
Former Leading Hand Nick Martin served in the Royal Navy until 1986. Nick joined the Royal Navy as a stores accountant in 1977, while most of his life at sea was onboard survey ships he saw action in the Falklands Campaign.
“I’ve allowed my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to control the way that I have led my life over many years. I now see life as a blessing not a burden. I am ready to live a productive, healthy life again!”
Nick’s PTSD had a huge effect on his day-to-day life. The charity support Nick has received gave him the confidence to apply for the 2018 Invictus Games. Competing in the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney helped Nick’s physical and mental wellbeing and gave him a new purpose in life.
“I smashed two personal bests and qualified for the road cycling final. I never ever thought I’d do anything like that. The feeling of self-worth that I am part of an organisation that helps others and helps me is just brilliant.”