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Tuesday 26 September 2017

UK Team continues to show the Invictus spirit

Posted by: Help For Heroes | Categories: Beneficiaries , Sports Recovery

The second and final day of events on the track and field saw emotions running high. A total of thirteen medals were achieved – 6 gold, 12 silver and 9 bronze – taking the total tally over the two days in athletics to 27. It was most definitely about more than just medals for UK Team competitors. Even more personal bests were gained and magic moments shared with family and friends.

Steve ‘Seb’ Sebburn’s children watched his 1500m race from the side of the track. His teenage daughter was in tears as he crossed the finish line, so proud to see her dad taking part in the Invictus Games. Army Veteran Seb, who sustained back and brain injuries, said: “Doctors told me I’d never cycle or run again. I’ve proved them wrong.”

Luke Sinnott gave the crowd a lot to reflect on when he announced that he would be giving the gold medal he had just won in his 200m race to the family of fallen comrade David Barnsdale, who was killed in action in 2010. Luke explained: “I’m immensely proud of what I’ve done but Dave is someone who is always on my mind every day of the year. Whenever I’m training, there’s no point when he’s not on my mind.”

“I have a great relationship with his family and I can only imagine what it must be like losing a child. Time has gone by and I think it’s important we keep remembering those people. In my capacity, I thought the best thing I can do, and at such a great event that celebrates military people, is to celebrate Dave and the sacrifices his family made.”

A lot of lucky spectators saw some thrilling tennis in the heart of downtown Toronto on Day 2 which saw the UK Team claim a Gold medal (Alex Krol and Kevin Drake) and a Bronze medal (Cornelia Oosthuizen and Kirk Hughes). The pairs met in an all-UK semi-final which saw Alex and Kevin win through following a 6-0 victory, the scoreline not reflecting the close rallies.

In a rematch of last year’s final, the UK faced off against New Zealand with Alex and Kevin prevailing 6-4. Huge celebrations from both players and crowd followed with Alex and Kevin enjoying an emotional celebration with their wives and children shortly afterward. Game, set and match to the UK!

Alex Krol said: “The Invictus Games and everything they stand for is a lifestyle and not just a yearly sporting event. Invictus is going to the gym and smashing out a session. Invictus is going into schools and prisons and talking about the Games. Invictus is training with a purpose and winning the fight daily.”

As the sun set on another memorable day, the Mattamy Athletic Centre played host to the women’s powerlifting competition. A cauldron-like atmosphere thundered all the way into the changing rooms as the competitors psyched themselves up before walking out into the bright lights.

Kerys Knight – lifting in the lightweight category – couldn’t resist a smile at the carnival atmosphere as she walked out to compete. She returned with a bronze medal and a loud cheer from her teammates.

Middleweights Faith Fordham, Charmaine Healy and Michelle Partington followed soon after. Charmaine – who lost her left leg during her 12 years of Army service – took home silver, while Michelle was ecstatic to bench press her heaviest ever weight. Faith was thrilled with the support from the passionate crowed. “It was awesome they came out to support us, I loved it,” she said.

Rounding off a terrific day was the women’s heavyweight category. All three competitors – Clare Langham-Phillips, Emma Pack and Jennifer Yarwood – all set personal bests, with Emma moved to tears after winning bronze. Embraced by her family at the podium, she said “I can’t believe it, never in my life did I think I’d be here powerlifting and achieve something like this.”

It’s now the turn of the men’s powerlifters with cycling, golf, indoor rowing and sitting volleyball also making up a packed day of competition.

You can follow the UK Team’s Invictus Games journey on Facebook @HelpforHeroesOfficial, Twitter @HelpforHeroes @H4H_SRand on BBC One every evening.

Register your interest for Invictus Games 2018

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