Invictus Games Orlando 2016: 7 May Highlights

Invictus Games Orlando 2016: 7 May Highlights

Invictus Games Sitting Volleyball

© Roger Keller | Help for Heroes

On the eve of the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, the Walt Disney World ESPN Wide World of Sports was brimming with competitive spirit.

JAGUAR LAND ROVER DRIVING CHALLENGE

The first medals of the Games were awarded yesterday (7th May), in the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge. Competitors set about navigating a series of obstacles, firstly in a Land Rover Discovery Sport through hurdles including ice runs, water troughs and steep banks, and then in a Jaguar XE, showing off skills including precision parking.

Martin Clapton and Michael Westwell made up the UK entry against eleven other nations. They made it through the morning’s qualification rounds with few faults and lined up for a final against Denmark, France and Estonia. An interactive map being read by the navigator revealed the route to be taken. One error in the navigation meant that a gate was missed and points were deducted from what would have been a clear run in on the Jaguar track. The UK team’s hope was that another pair would make the same error, but that wasn’t to be and they went into the Land Rover leg of the final knowing they were unlikely to win. The mistake was costly. They had another clear run but no errors were made by their opponents, meaning they remained in fourth with France claiming the first gold medal of the Games.

Following the results, Michael, who served in the RAF, said: “We had a technical error navigating which cost us the competition. We were here to compete and we’d have loved a medal but it’s just good to be here. I still have cycling and rowing to go so there’s still time.

Martin, a former Corporal, added: “We got the wrong gate which threw the sequence out. A bronze would have been nice but I’ll cry over it later! For me the Invictus Games is about proving to myself that I’m not defined by my injury. This is a stepping stone. I arrived here as an injured servicemen, I’m now an Invictus Games athlete.”

SWIMMING

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© Roger Keller | Help for Heroes

Swimmers from the 14 nations went head-to-head for the first time on Saturday as the heats took place in the spectacular outdoor swimming pool constructed specifically for the Games. The months of hard training, planning and preparation certainly paid off for the UK team with the vast majority of the swimmers making it through to the finals. For many of our swimmers, simply standing on the blocks would have felt like winning gold but so many of the competitors went away with personal best times, a testament to their dedication to overcoming adversity. They were cheered on by a combination of other athletes, family and friends whose shouts of encouragement could be easily heard throughout the swimming arena.

David Wiseman, UK Team Captain

UK team captain David Wiseman led by example, winning the 100M and 50M freestyle in a time of 1.01.90 and 27.67seconds respectively. The 50M breaststroke was also a particular highlight with four UK swimmers occupying the top five places (Luke Reeson, Mike Goody, Cowan Botha and Rob Cromey-Hawke). The women’s heats were equally impressive for the UK, with Fiona Bullen winning her freestyle race and scoring a personal best time of 34.76 seconds in the 50M. In the 100M backstroke Catherine Nightingale qualified first, followed closely by Zoe Williams, another strong showing for the UK team.

© Roger Keller | Help for Heroes

Speaking after the heats, David said team spirit within the camp was at a high: “We did really well in the team sport prelims yesterday [Wheelchair Basketball and Wheelchair Rugby] and that gave all of the guys a definite boost heading into the swimming heats today. Morale was high and the performances certainly reflected that. I am not ashamed to say I was nervous this morning but it feels really good to get competition underway. I certainly believe in the power of sport as a tool for recovery and that is proving to be the case here in Orlando. Our time so far has been amazing and we are all so excited about what the remainder of the Games will bring.”

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© Roger Keller | Help for Heroes

SITTING VOLLEYBALL

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Yesterday marked the end of the preparation and the beginning of a gold medal 2014 title defence for the UK sitting volleyball team, and it did not disappoint.

Their first match was against the Afghanistan team, who started with just five players. With a good set of skills on display the match swiftly came to its conclusion with the UK team winning two sets to love.

Next to face the UK were the French who came to the net ready to confront. With a noisy crowd lighting up the atmosphere and “Allez les bleus” chanted without a breath taken the UK team stole the advantage early on in the game with a series of solid, well-placed serves.                                                     © Roger Keller | Help for Heroes
The French had very little to answer to a well-organised
defence and the game ended with a second two sets to love victory.

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© Roger Keller | Help for Heroes

The final match of the day was against Canada with the winner set to go through to the semi-finals. A pumped Canadian team lined themselves up against a quietly confident and organised UK team. Hours of unrelenting training, put in by the UK was on display for all to see. The camaraderie was electric and hardly any errors meant a 25-1 first set and 25-4 second set, sealing three wins from three.

Charlie Walker, Army veteran and team captain of the UK sitting volleyball team, said: “There are a few things to improve on following today’s games. We were a bit shaky to start with as we didn’t get a lot of competition in the first game and there is only so much you can do playing against each other in training, but it got better through the day and we’ll get that match sharpness we need.”

A LOOK AHEAD

Today (Sunday 8th May) sees the official start of the Games with athletics heats taking place, as well as archery and powerlifting preliminaries. Athletes from across all nations will gather this evening to celebrate the Opening Ceremony of the Invictus Games Orlando 2016. Follow @H4H_SR for live updates and @HelpforHeroes for highlights throughout.

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 © Roger Keller | Help for Heroes

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