Warrior Games draws to a close

As the Department of Defense Warrior Games draws to a close, we reflect on what has been an inspirational few days for our UK team at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.

UK Team Warrior Games 2016 Help For Heroes©Neil Egerton/Help for Heroes

Help for Heroes are very proud to have supported the team on their journey in which they competed in eight sports across seven days, alongside their American counterparts from the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Army.

The event has been about giving our wounded, injured and sick serving and veteran personnel the chance to take part in sport, alongside their peers, to show themselves, and the rest of the world, that they can. This is about ability, not disability. Every athlete at the Warrior Games has been empowered to compete.

The Sitting Volleyball playoffs kicked off proceedings (no medals or medal matches for the team but some great performance by the players). Archery training followed this (the team were fine tuning their skills and shooting a scored round to select the UK team members for the team events).  There was also swimming and athletics training where the team received some great coaching support from their hosts.

Sitting Volleyball Warrior Games Help For Heroes©Neil Egerton/Help for Heroes

The day culminated in the opening ceremony at which Major Brian Seggie was nominated to carry the torch, and the Golden Knights dropped in and presented the team with a lithograph as a memento.

The following day saw the competition start in earnest with the track and field events running throughout the day. The commitment from the athletes was extraordinary with each and every one of them leaving all they had on the field of play.  

Ben Wagon Warrior Games Help For Heroes©Neil Egerton/Help for Heroes

The main event the following day was the archery competition, and the UK Team swept the board in the Recurve events winning the Gold (Keith Roberson), Silver (Gavin Watson) and Bronze (Mark Martin-Davey) in the individual competiton and the same three archers also won the gold in the team Recurve.

The UK team finished a creditable fourth in the Compound event beating two of the five US teams in the process.

Archery Warrior Games Help For Heroes©Neil Egerton/Help for Heroes

Next up, the cyclists raced over a 5km hilly circuit around West Point with the number laps rating form 2-6 depending on the classification the riders.  Medals were won, but the main impact was gained purely from the simple pleasure of racing in an iconic setting, on a beautiful summer’s day, with their comrades in arms.

Cycling Warrior Games Help For Heroes©Neil Egerton/Help for Heroes

During the afternoon the UK basketball team played with passion and commitment against all of the US service branches, and the team did not look at all out of place despite the very strong opposition.  Those playing had some wonderful experiences and were well supported by the crowd, particularly the USAF Team Staff.  

Wheelchair Basketball Warrior Games Help For Heroes©Neil Egerton/Help for Heroes

The final day of competition took place at the West Point Swimming Pool.  The team were dominant in the pool winning a total of 14 medals.

Swimming Warrior Games Help For Heroes©Neil Egerton/Help for Heroes

The last formal event to take place was the closing ceremony, which was a fantastic celebration of the previous week. Marine Justin Montague received the ‘Spirit of the Games’ award, which was a special moment for both him and the team.

Closing Ceremony Warrior Games Help For Heroes©Neil Egerton/Help for Heroes

Lives have been changed, new goals have been set, and there have been smiles on faces that have not held a smile for some time.  

For the full results click HERE.

If you are wounded, injured or sick serving or veteran and have been inspired to get involved in sport, email: sportsrecovery@helpforheroes.org.uk

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Allan Lamb inaugurated as Help for Heroes cricket team ambassador

Former England cricket captain, Allan Lamb was inaugurated into his role as ambassador for the Help for Heroes cricket team at the weekend (Sunday 19 June), when he joined them for their match at Tidworth Cricket Ground against 30-year-old Hampshire touring side, The White Hunters.

Allan Lamb With Help For Heroes Cricket Team (C) Fiona Gray©Fiona Gray

The Help for Heroes cricket team is formed of wounded injured and sick military personnel and veterans who are using cricket as part of their recovery.

Allan was being inaugurated as an ambassador of Help for Heroes’ cricket team, to assist in the development of the sport and in recognition of his magnificent achievement in pulling together the Cricket for Heroes event at the Oval last September.

Allan enjoyed a tour of the Help for Heroes Tedworth House Recovery Centre before being presented with the team polo shirt and blazer at Tidworth Cricket Ground. He expressed his honour and pleasure in being appointed ambassador, and said how much he was going to enjoy the opportunity and privilege.

“It’s such an honour to be announced as ambassador for the Help for Heroes cricket team. I’m delighted to be joining the team today to show my support ahead of their match against White Hunters CC this afternoon.

To see the team at Tedworth House, which is a fantastic facility which so many of the blokes have used, and are still using, on their recovery journey is very humbling. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and look forward to my next visit to support them.

Cricket is a wonderful sport, and it’s fantastic that the wounded, injured and sick military community are gaining so much from playing it, whether that be physical or psychological.”

Once all of the pre-match presentations and photographs were done, it was time to take to the field. The White Hunters went in to bat first and so Help for Heroes took to the field. The fielding performance by all involved was absolutely fantastic, with everyone diving around the place, defying their injuries. Everybody was having fun and really enjoying themselves.

DSC_0397©Fiona Gray

With all of the Help for Heroes team getting on the field to take part in the match at some point, it was clear to see that all the hard work from the coaches was starting to pay off. In the field the guys and girls were nothing short of amazing. It was easily the best fielding display of the season so far, and arguably in the history of Help for Heroes cricket.

The White Hunters set a target of 177 to win, so in marched the first pair, Ortis (Charles) and Steve (Caruana). The run rate was fairly leisurely to begin with, but with some gentle encouragement and shouting (“see the ball, hit the ball”), they started to swing. Unfortunately, this didn’t go our way and we started to loose wickets, until Barrie took to the crease and decided to entrench himself.  Barrie (Griffiths) had a string of ducks (no runs scored !) in previous matches, and was adamant that he wasn’t going to get one this time. He succeeded and made a few runs, playing some beautiful shots along the way. It wasn’t enough though and on the last ball, with a huge swing across the line, Barrie was out and the game was done. We had made 105 runs, but it didn’t matter.

Both teams left the field in high spirits, neither team concerned with the result. It was then time for tea. It was a wonderful spread that had been put together by Band of Sisters Mel and Hannah, with the support and generosity of the Durrington local Sainsbury’s store. After the food the captains decided to have another match, this time it was a 15 over match. Unfortunately, this match succumbed to the bad light, with safety becoming a factor.

It didn’t matter. Everybody involved had a fantastic day. The opposition were fantastic, and entered into the spirit of the day. They presented the club with their book that follows the first 25 years of the White Hunters Club, which is now in the Tedworth House Library and very generously donated £150 to Help for Heroes.

Over the last three years, cricket has evolved within Help for Heroes as not only a sport to aid physical recovery but as a method of developing new friendships and growing as part of a team.

DSC_0306©Fiona Gray

Help for Heroes has been involved with Sports Recovery since 2008, and in the past year alone have put on around 300 events across 50 different sports enabling wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans to take part in adaptive sports from grassroots through to performance level.

To find out more about Help for Heroes’ Sports Recovery Programme, follow @H4H_SR on Twitter.

If you want to get involved in cricket or any other sport with Help for Heroes, email sportsrecovery@helpforheroes.org.uk

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UK Team set to participate in 2016 Warrior Games

For the fourth year in a row, the United Kingdom will participate in the Department of Defense Warrior Games hosted at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, from June 15-22, supported by Help for Heroes.

Swimming Warrior Games 2015 Help For Heroes

A team of 34 have been selected for the UK team and are prepared to compete as part of their recovery. The British Team, which is supported by Help for Heroes, will take part in eight adaptive sports: Archery, Cycling, Sitting Volleyball, Shooting, Swimming, Track and Field, and Wheelchair Basketball. The competition kicks off from 15 – 21 June and the UK team will compete against around 200 competitors from the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Army.

Martin Colclough, Head of Sports Recovery at Help for Heroes said: “We know how important sport is as part of an individual’s recovery, not only does it help physically, sport provides huge psychological benefits too including improving self-confidence and self-esteem.  The Warrior Games provides the opportunity to be part of a team again, something the military often miss after suffering a life-changing injury or illness.”

“The Warrior Games team represents just 34 of our wounded heroes; there are thousands more out there that need our support, for life.  We’d encourage anyone who wants to try something new as part of their recovery to get in touch, there’s something on offer for everyone.”

Shooting Warrior Games 2015 Help For Heroes

The event is about giving our wounded, injured and sick serving and veteran personnel the chance to take part in sport, alongside their peers, to show themselves, and the rest of the world, that they can. This is about ability, not disability. Every athlete at the Warrior Games has been empowered to compete.

Anyone that is wounded, injured or sick military personnel or veteran and in need of support should visit Help for Heroes’ Get Support pages.

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Ross Austen takes Silver at British Championships

A wounded ex-serviceman, who is supported by Help for Heroes’ Sports Recovery programme, won a Silver medal in the men’s 72kg+ at the Cybex British Weight Lifting & Para-Powerlifting Championships  last weekend (Sun 12 June) at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.

IMG_0371 Ross Austen©100AND10%

Fresh from winning a Silver medal at the Invictus Games in Orlando, Ross Austen lifted 157kg, a whole 27kg more than at last year’s British Championships – showing his progression in the sport.

Former Corporal, Ross Austen (from Barnstaple, Devon) who served with the Royal Engineers, lost his left leg above knee, and sustained nerve damage to his right foot and leg when he was injured by an IED on patrol clearing a compound in Afghanistan in November 2008.

Sport has played a huge part in Ross’ rehabilitation and recovery, as part of Help for Heroes’ extensive Sports Recovery programme.

Jayne Kavanagh, Performance Pathway Manager at Help for Heroes Sports Recovery added: “Congratulations to Ross from all of the team at Help for Heroes, this was a great result for him on his journey in the sport. Fresh from winning Silver at the Invictus Games, Ross should be proud of his performance here lifting 7kg more than in Orlando. We’re looking forward to future competitions and continuing to support him on his journey. Working closely with British Weight Lifting, we are finding more and more military personnel have very strong attributes to take powerlifting forward, we’re very excited for the future – whilst athletes like Ross inspire other wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women that anything is possible post injury.

Help for Heroes are very proud to continue to support Ross, after he was discovered through British Weight Lifting and Help for Heroes’ joint Pathway2Podium initiative, to uncover and introduce military personnel to Para-Powerlifting.

Ross was joined at the competition by the likes of fellow ex-serviceman, Richard Webb who lifted 108kg in the same category to take fifth place.

The support provided to these competitors forms part of the Help for Heroes’ partnership with British Weightlifting and the British Paralympic Association to introduce military personnel to Paralympic Sport.

The Cybex British Weight Lifting & Para-Powerlifting Championships was the biggest domestic competition of the year, where more than 100 lifters battled it out for the coveted title of British Champion in front of the biggest crowd ever recorded at a domestic weightlifting competition.

In order to allow athletes with a range of bodyweights and disabilities to compete fairly, placings were calculated with an adjustment for bodyweight, meaning the heaviest weight lifted was not always the winning result.

Commenting on the weekend’s competition, Ashley Metcalfe, British Weight Lifting CEO, said: “The 2016 Cybex British Weight Lifting & Para-Powerlifting Championships were a fantastic showcase for the sport, with packed-out crowds providing a fantastic atmosphere throughout the weekend.

“We’ve worked hard over the last few years to provide our athletes with the best competitive environment possible and in doing so, we aim to bring our domestic competitions in line with the standards experienced internationally to really get the best out of our lifters; this weekend’s competition was no exception, as the Championships delivered yet more British records and outstanding performances, and notably not just from our elite athletes but our up and coming lifters too which was fantastic to see.

“Spectator numbers rose yet again which is indicative of the growing popularity of the sport and we’ve had fantastic feedback from athletes, coaches and spectators alike; the two days were a fantastic way to lead us into a busy summer of sport as we look forward to cheering on our Olympic and Paralympic representatives in Rio.”

Full results from the Cybex British Weight Lifting & Para-Powerlifting Championships 2016 can be found here.

Help for Heroes has been involved with Sports Recovery since 2008, and in the past year alone have put on around 300 events across 50 different sports enabling over 2,100 wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans to take part in adaptive sports from grassroots through to performance level.

To find out more about Help for Heroes’ Sports Recovery Programme, visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk/sports-recovery  or follow @H4H_SR on Twitter.

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Nick Beighton secures Paralympic nomination at National Sprint Regatta

Paracanoe athlete Nick Beighton, who is part of the Help for Heroes’ Sports Recovery Academy, is one of six British athletes that secured nomination for ParalympicsGB at the National Sprint Regatta at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham this weekend (Sat 4 June).

Nick Beighton Help For Heroes©Theo Cohen/Help for Heroes

Nick had ensured Great Britain would be represented in the remaining two events in Rio only three weeks ago at this year’s World Championships, he needed to successfully complete the second race before also securing his nomination. He clocked a time of 44.84 seconds and 44.48 seconds in his respective races in Nottingham, securing his nomination.

Speaking at the presentations, Steve Harris, Paracanoe Programme Manager said: “I am pleased we have now completed our selection races at our National Championships. Once our nominations are confirmed by the BPA in around ten days-time we will start afresh on our final phase of preparations."

The support provided to Nick forms part of the Help for Heroes’ partnership with British Canoeing and the British Paralympic Association to introduce military personnel and veterans to Paralympic Sport.

A former Captain in the Army, Nick was injured in 2009 after stepping on an IED while serving in Afghanistan, which resulted in him losing both of his legs. Nick was supported by Help for Heroes’ Sports Recovery programme during his rehabilitation where he transitioned his skills to rowing. After being accepted onto the British Rowing programme he qualified for the London 2012 Paralympics in the mixed scull, unfortunately missing out on a medal when finishing in fourth place. In 2013 he completed the Paris to London element of Help for Heroes’ Hero Ride on a hand bike.

After undergoing more surgeries following London 2012, Beighton was forced to take a break from sport but later took up paracanoeing, which is set to make its Paralympic debut at Rio 2016.

Nick Beighton Help For Heroes 2©Theo Cohen/Help for Heroes

Nick said following this weekend’s regatta: “The last couple of years have been a joy. I have really savoured the paddling and the squad environment and being part of something bigger. It is about racing and putting yourself out there and taking pride in what other people are achieving also. It is a really constructive environment and we are all helping each other to achieve what we want, which ultimately is a medal in Rio.”

Great Britain is one of only two countries, along with Australia, to have qualified quota places in all six Paralympic Paracanoe events, and it will mark a proud moment for this ambitious performance programme when the sport makes its debut at Rio 2016. 

Nominations to the British Paralympic Association:

Anne Dickins - K1 200m KL3
Emma Wiggs - K1 200m KL2
Jeanette Chippington - K1 200m KL1
Robert Oliver - K1 200m KL3
Nicholas Beighton - K1 200m KL2
Ian Marsden - K1 200m KL1

Help for Heroes has been involved with Sports Recovery since 2008, and put on events across different sports enabling over 2,100 wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans to take part in adaptive sports from grassroots through to performance level each year.

To find out more about Help for Heroes’ Sports Recovery Programme, follow @H4H_SR on Twitter.

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