Invictus Games Orlando 2016: 10 May Highlight

Invictus Games Orlando 2016: 10 May Highlight

With 288 medals up for grabs in yesterday’s track and field, the UK team of 30 athletes had the chance to improve on their already impressive medal count of 53 following Monday’s success on the cycling track and in powerlifting, rowing, and archery.

Athletics

The success of yesterday’s events clearly inspired the athletes as they did not disappoint – raking up another 29 medals in total. Team UK completed a haul of 20 medals on the track alone - four golds, six silver and 10 bronze. A further four golds, three silvers and two bronzes were won in the field events.

Dave Henson took more than a second off his personal best as he won gold with a superb performance in the IT2 200m. The 2014 Invictus Games captain recorded a time of 25.04.

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© Roger Keller | Help for Heroes

Luke Sinnott, a former Captain in the Royal Engineers who lost both of his legs above the knee when he stood on an IED in Afghanistan, normally prefers the long jump but he put in two impressive performances on the track; winningGold in the 400m and Silver in the 100m. He said: “I was the only double amputee in the final so perhaps they underestimated me. I knew it was going to be a tough race today and I’m over the moon that I managed to pip it at the end. Winning Gold at an event like this is right up there in terms of what it means to me and I know I won’t ever forget that moment. Having my family there to watch it was just incredible and the crowd were amazing. It felt like I was racing at home with the noise they were making.”

3_IG16_Sunday __1404Ex-paratrooper Luke Wigman feared he would never walk again after his legs were severely injured and his body was littered with shrapnel when he accidentally stepped on a Taliban IED while serving in Afghanistan. But five years on, he defended the 1500m Gold medal he won at the Invictus Games in London.

He said: “I wanted this so badly, I just can’t believe it. I’ve 
worked so hard for this and now that it’s happened, I’m just over the moon. The number they gave me to wear was also my military number, which was a coincidence but it made me feel like it was my destiny to win this race again. That feeling when I crossed the finish line, hearing the roar of the British supporters, was spine tingling. The Invictus Games are so special and taking part with other wounded guys just really spurs you on.”


Other track highlights included former Amy Major Jen Warren who won four silvers in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 1500m wheelchair track races, shaving a minute off her personal best in the 1500m! Craig Preece, more known for his prowess on the cycling track, took gold in his 1500m discipline and other gold medals went to former Army medic Nerys Pearce (Shotput and Discus) and former Private Vicky Parrett (Shotput and Discus).               © Roger Keller | Help for Heroes 

Congratulations to all other medal winners in what was a successful morning in the Athletics stadium!

Sitting Volleyball

Semi-final vs. Georgia:

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© Roger Keller | Help for Heroes

The UK Sitting Volleyball team hit the courts with hopes for a shiny gold medal to add to the ever growing tally on day two. With a semi-final to kick off the day, the team came into the match with real hunger for victory but started poorly against a very well organised Georgian team. The first few points were going either way with some amazing reactions on display to keep the ball alive. After a few tense battles the UK team were hitting unbeatable serves by Rob Cromey-Hawke and Frank Aveh. Charlie Walker, a gold medal winner in 2014 saw out the first set with some smart positional play bringing the score to 25-15.

Into the second set and defiance in the face of a pumped Georgian team was on order. They had an answer to everything the UK team asked and the points kept creeping up to a time out called at 20-20. A few words from player/coach Charlie Walker with a focus on “making good decisions” had the team head back out but unfortunately it was a nervy restart again and Georgia took advantage by winning the set 25-23.

Pushed to a third set the team knew what they had to correct in this first to 15 decider. Corie Mapp put up some monster blocks against a vicious Georgian attack making sure that there would only be one outcome to this set-a fantastic 15-8 bringing the game to a fantastic conclusion for UK. Through to the gold medal match against non-other than the host country, USA.

Final vs. USA:

UK Sitting Volleyball Team Invictus Games

© Roger Keller | Help for Heroes

The final saw a packed crowd and fantastic support for both teams. This was the big one, the grudge match built up from 2014 when the UK team took gold. The Americans were not going to let that happen on home turf without a fight! The UK were, again, very nervy to start-two early points in succession for the USA meant they were on top and the home crowd certainly let everyone know about it. Unbelievably skilful shots and blocks were on display from two teams who had trained so hard for this moment. It was clear how much this meant to all involved, the question was-who wanted it more? The USA had their eye in though and were unstoppable in the first set, winning it by 25-21.

Worrying moments for the UK team but they team had an opportunity to regroup and remember all the hours of training that had got them here and selected for these amazing Games. Their personal journeys through recovery channelled through sport ringing through their minds and a sense of calm was evident-they knew they had it in them. The second set was a nail biting conquest of intricate agility and full on power plays and the USA called a time out with the score in their favour (23-22) needing only two points to win the title. A few choice words and BOOM, in a flash the UK team had turned it around to unbelievably win the second set against the odds 26-24.

UK versus USA Sitting Volleyball Invictus Games

© Roger Keller | Help for Heroes

Into the third and final set decider and what a decider this was going to be! With total commitment the last set was over in a flash, Netra Rana was throwing himself at everything with Anil Gurung close by his side but nothing was stopping the American’s point scoring ability. Play after play, like clockwork, the USA team were picking their shots perfectly. Some beautiful comeback points from the UK in the set were executed really well but it was simply not enough to stop the score ticking over to 15-8 and a well-deserved gold for the host nation with the UK getting the silver medal.

A quite simply spellbinding final, all in attendance showed their gratitude for an amazing display by players who have come so far from the physical injuries or hidden wounds that may have once held them back.

Tomorrow sees the swimming finals, wheelchair rugby semi-finals, Bronze and Gold medal matches, and the wheelchair tennis semi-finals. Follow @H4H_SR for live updates and @HelpforHeroesfor highlights throughout.

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