The team of 72 competitors selected to represent the UK at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 was exclusively unveiled this yesterday (15 May) at Horse Guards Parade.
The team of wounded, injured and sick (WIS) serving military personnel and veterans came together for the first time since selection at the iconic London venue and were joined by Prime Minister Theresa May who posed with the athletes for the first official team photograph and wished them luck for the Games in October.
The athletes – 64% of whom are new to Invictus - were also joined by former Team UK captains, including Paralympic Bronze medallist Dave Henson.
Karl Allen-Dobson from Paignton, Terrysa Bulman from Yeovil, Deborah Godfrey from Torpoint, Nick Martin and Mark Ormrod from Plymouth, Poppy Pawsey and David Watts from Exmouth and Andrew White from Okehampton have all been selected to take part.
More hopefuls than ever before, 451 WIS military personnel and veterans, trialed 11 sports for one of the 72 places available on Team UK. The trials were attended by HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, in one of their last joint appearances before the Royal Wedding.
The rigorous selection process for Team UK was based on the benefit the Invictus Games will give an individual as part of their recovery, combined with performance and commitment to training.
The 2018 UK Team Captain was also named this morning as Mark “Dot” Perkins, who takes over the mantel from 2017 Captain, Bernie Broad.
Former Royal Signals Corporal Dot was discharged in 2005 now works as a civil servant rehabilitating injured soldiers and will compete in cycling and rowing. He said: “There are few moments in one's life when an event occurs that truly transforms your life, the Invictus Games is it. They are all about empowerment, they empower us all to fight the chains of physical disability, to fight the intangible burden of mental illness and they empower us to focus on being the best we can be despite the scars that we all now wear.
“Whilst participating in the games our scars are like Medals that we can proudly display rather than hide in shame or embarrassment. Invictus allows us to be judged on what we can achieve, rather than what we can’t. To simply be selected for Team UK was an amazing achievement. To then be further selected as the Captain and to represent these incredibly brave men and women is extremely humbling, it is a huge privilege to be given this honour.”
The team will compete in 11 sports: Athletics; Archery; Wheelchair Basketball; Cycling; Powerlifting; Indoor Rowing; Wheelchair Rugby; Swimming, Sitting Volleyball, Wheelchair Tennis and a new sport for 2018, Sailing. They will
continue to train from now until October in various locations across the country as part of Help for Heroes’ extensive Sports Recovery programme and role to train and develop the team.
Jayne Kavanagh, of Help for Heroes and Chef de Mission for Team UK, said: “Invictus is a powerful demonstration of the dedication these men and women displayed when they served our country. It is a celebration of how they confronted hardship but refused to be defined by injury or illness and they all deserve the chance to proudly serve their country once more. They have the opportunity to not only continue their own recovery, but to inspire others with their resilience, passion, courage and optimism.
“With more hopefuls than ever before applying to be a part of the Invictus Games in Sydney, and with 64% of the 2018 Team UK being brand new to the Games, it is evident that the legacy of the Games is strong. We are very proud to be working alongside these 72 athletes and wish them the best of luck as they embark on their Invictus Games journeys.”
Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson said: “I am delighted that competitors have been chosen to represent the UK at the next Invictus Games and look forward to following their journey from training camps to Sydney. The Invictus Games serve as a powerful reminder of the ability of sport to inspire and support the recovery of wounded and injured troops and veterans.”
The Royal British Legion will be supporting the friends and family, including carers, of Team UK as part of its work to recognise the vital and valuable contribution that they make to the recovery of WIS Service personnel and veterans.
Jaguar Land Rover is proud to support Team UK and are presenting partners of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018. Jeremy Hicks, Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover UK said: “When we first partnered with the Invictus Games in 2014, we knew its vision would be a perfect match for the values of Jaguar Land Rover and we are incredibly proud to be continuing our role as presenting partner of the games this year, in addition to sponsoring Team UK as we did in London, Orlando and Toronto.
“The passion and determination shown on the field is truly inspiring and we wish all of the 2018 competitors the best on this exciting journey."
The Endeavour Fund, a programme led by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry which supports wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and veterans using sport and adventurous challenges as part of their recovery and rehabilitation, is once again supporting Team UK. It has provided £50,000 funding and has offered opportunities for the non-selected cohort to continue their recovery through sport.