A wounded ex-serviceman, who is supported by Help for Heroes’ Sports Recovery programme, has been confirmed to represent Great Britain at the Newport Para-Cycling International, which takes place from 30 January – 1 February 2015.
Former Private, Jaco Van Gass was a member of the British Armed Forces Parachute Regiment where during his second tour of Afghanistan he was severely wounded. Jaco and his platoon were engaged by enemy Forces and after an intense 45 minute fire fight, Jaco was hit by an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). The injuries he sustained included the loss of his left arm at the elbow, a collapsed left lung, shrapnel wounds to his left side, punctured internal organs, blast wounds to upper thigh, a broken tibia and a fractured knee. After 11 operations and intense rehab, Jaco has shown that his injuries haven’t held him back. With Help for Heroes’ support Jaco has had the opportunity to try various sports including skeleton, and skiing before finding cycling, a sport he has now taken to a competitive level.
Martin Colclough OBE, Head of Help for Heroes Sports Recovery said: “We’re extremely proud that Jaco has been named on the Great Britain team to compete at the Newport Para-cycling International. Jaco is a fantastic example of what wounded, injured and sick service men and women can do post injury, by using the power of adaptive sport throughout their recovery. We are looking forward to following and supporting Jaco on his road to Rio 2016.”
The three-day event held at Wales National Velodrome in Newport is in its second year and counts as a qualifying event for track cycling at the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016.
Jon Norfolk, head coach for the Great Britain Para-cycling Team, said: “The Newport Para-cycling International is a key event for us and as such we’re sending a full squad with the exception of Dame Sarah Storey who has chosen to focus on her hour record attempt.
"With this being a qualifying event for Rio, the riders are all keen to put in a strong performance to start momentum. It’s also a good opportunity to see how we measure up against the rest of the world at this moment in time to identify the areas we need to work on and to help shape our preparations for 2016.”
The full team is listed below:
Steve Bate (piloted by Adam Duggleby) B/VI Jody Cundy C4 Neil Fachie (piloted by Craig MacLean) B/VI Megan Giglia C3 Jon Gildea C5 Sally Hurst C2 Crystal Lane C5 Louis Rolfe C2 Liz Saul C3 Sophie Thornhill (piloted by Rachel James) B/VI Lora Turnham (piloted by Lauryn Therin) B/VIJaco van Gass C4
For more information on the event visit www.newportparatrack.co.uk
Help for Heroes has been involved with Sports Recovery since 2008, and in the past year alone have put on 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 follow @H4H_SR on Twitter.