“The last 10 months have been amazing. Since my first training camp, my life and my family’s life has turned around. I have a lifelong heart condition and I’ve been lucky enough to have had the most amazing support from Help for Heroes. If I can do this and use sport as my recovery, then anyone can. I want to inspire just one person to not give up, to realise that life doesn’t always go to plan but it’s about how we look to our future and be the best person that we can be. A personal best and to make my little girl proud of me is all I ask for at the Games.” - Sgt Michelle Turner, UK team Invictus Games competitor
Michelle is part of the 90-strong UK Team who today boarded a plane and jetted off to Toronto to compete in the third Invictus Games. More than 250 Friends and Family will also attend to cheer on and support.
The team will have one day of training before the competition kicks off on 23 September. The Games, launched by Prince Harry in 2014, are the only international sporting competition for wounded, injured and sick servicemen, women and veterans.
In total, 550 athletes from 17 nations will compete across 12 sports: Archery, Athletics, Golf, Cycling, Rowing, Swimming, Powerlifting, Wheelchair Tennis, Wheelchair Basketball, Sitting Volleyball, Wheelchair Rugby and the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge.
UK athlete Lamin Manneh will compete in sitting volleyball, rowing, shot put and discus.
Former Guardsman Lamin lost both legs and his left arm in an explosion in Afghanistan on New Year’s Eve 2010. He credits the Invictus Games with changing his life. “I just love the Games! I’m not the fastest or strongest but to inspire people is everything. If they see I have no legs and one hand and they see me rowing they might think, ‘I can do that’.”
One of the UK Team’s vice-captain, Army Major Dr Jennifer Warren, is a wheelchair user after a skiing accident in 2008. The mum-of-one came home from Orlando last year with nine medals. This year she takes part in wheelchair racing, hand cycling and swimming. “For the Orlando Games, the main emotion was fear. This year is completely different. Orlando lit a spark in me that I’d forgotten was there. The nice thing isn’t just what it’s done for me, but also my teammates.
“We’re people who might have been sat at home, not working, now we all have jobs, are active. Things like that for me are more important than the medals. That’s the most priceless thing about the Games.”