Help for Heroes have reported a significant increase in wounded veterans, Servicemen and women’s participation in sport.
In the year since the huge Paralympics GB success, Help for Heroes have given 1,168 individual sporting grants. This compares with 648 in the same period the previous year. These sporting grants vary from grassroots financial support for new equipment such as handbikes to funding to help participation at international competitions.
Sport plays a key role in helping seriously wounded Service personnel gain independence and confidence so they can focus on what they can achieve, rather than what they can’t.
As part of its Paralympic legacy programme, Help for Heroes and the British Paralympic Association have jointly launched ‘Front Line to Start Line’ to introduce injured military personnel and veterans to opportunities in Paralympic sport. The programme includes the identification of individuals who have the potential to represent ParalympicsGB in Rio 2016 or beyond.
In only its 12th week of delivery, through just two Talent ID days held between May and August 2013, the programme has already helped identify eight individuals across three sports who have now been placed on National GB Sports Programmes.
A further 27 athletes have also been identified by GB sports as ‘talented’ and are in the process of going through classification and confirmation camps.
Royal Marine Joe Townsend, a double amputee who was blown up in Afghanistan, was the centrepiece of last year’s Paralympic Opening Ceremony when he zip wired into the stadium with the Paralympic torch. Since then, Joe has been selected to represent ParalympicsGB in the Paratriathlon World Championships in September. He now has his sights firmly set on Rio, when Paratriathlon will be introduced as a new sport.
Joe said: “You’re out serving your country, you’re young, you’re fit, you’re in the prime of your life and then you have a life-changing injury. It’s a long battle to get over that, getting through rehabilitation and learning to look after yourself. Sport proves to you what you can do instead of what you can’t do. You’re pushing yourself to your limit and it’s an incredible feeling exceeding the fitness levels you had before. Rio for me would be like the icing on the cake, but it’s also a rehabilitation pathway. With the help of Help for Heroes and some solid training I hope to be able to represent my country once again.”
Martin Colclough, Head of Physical Recovery at Help for Heroes said: “Help for Heroes has always understood the important role sport plays in someone’s recovery. Many people talk about a ‘Paralympic Legacy’ and the substantial increase in support we have provided in sport demonstrates it in action. To us, the Paralympic Legacy is not just about performance athletes, it’s about inspiring people at any level to achieve their own personal best in from sport.”