The team of 72 competitors selected to represent the UK at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 was exclusively unveiled this morning at Horse Guards Parade.
Help for Heroes is again delivering and training the UK Invictus Games team. The team of wounded, injured and sick 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.
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 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 mantle 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.”
Help for Heroes are working in partnership with the Ministry of Defence and Royal British Legion and Team UK are being supported for the fourth year running by Jaguar Land Rover.