Injured Perth veteran John Willans has won a place in the 2019 Warrior Games and set his sights on next year’s Invictus Games after forces charity Help for Heroes introduced him to recovery through sport.
John, aged 36, has been medically discharged from the Royal Engineers after a motorbike crash left with him with serious leg and knee injuries. The accident happened in July 2017 while he was on leave following a six-month deployment in South Sudan on a UN peacekeeping mission.
Following two operations on his leg, which was crushed into 17 pieces, John spent six months in a wheelchair and another six on crutches. Following his final operation in August 2018, he can now walk with a stick, with more rehabilitation still to come.
The father-of-two, who has served in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, accessed psychological wellbeing support from Help for Heroes and attends their Band of Brothers peer support events in Scotland.
John plays wheelchair basketball and rugby with Dundee Dragons and recently travelled to Manchester to take part in a Team UK Invictus Games event organised by Help for Heroes, where he tried out seated volleyball for the first time.
He said: “I really enjoyed the event in Manchester. The sport has been a massive help in my recovery - trying new sports and adapting things I used to play before my accident to suit my situation now. It was also good to meet up with other people that are going through their own day-to-day challenge, to speak to them and not being judged by anyone. “
Shortly after his return, John was delighted to learn he had won a place in the UK team competing in the 2019 Warrior Games in Tampa, Florida from June 21 to 30. He hopes to compete in wheelchair basketball, rugby, tennis, sit down volleyball and swimming.
He said: “I was over the moon to be selected to go to the Warrior Games, To have the chance to compete in such an event is an honour and privilege, I am looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead and Its gives me another goal to train for and keep me motivated also with only being discharged from the army a short time ago it will keep me connected with fellow service men and women not only from the UK but from the other countries taking part and the banter that comes with being around service personnel. I am looking forward to getting stuck in with the training weekends that the team have planned to get us ready for the trip to Tampa in June.
John has also been chosen go on the 2019 Allied Winter Sports Camp in Canada this month, funded by Help for Heroes, where he will take part in activities including Alpine Skiing, Bobsleighing and Sledge Hockey.
He also has his sights set on the Invictus Games 2020, the international adaptive multi-sport event, created by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, for wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel, uses the power of sport, teamwork and competition to significantly accelerate their recovery.
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