James Rogers, a Lt Cdr in the Royal Navy, suffers from Axial Spondyloarthropathy (AS); a chronic form of arthritis that causes significant inflammatory joint pain, battles with a combination of fatigue, pain, low self-esteem and mood on a daily basis.
However, when he took part in an Invictus Training Camps, the 36-year-old started to see progress in his wellbeing: “My family and I have noticed a marked improvement in me. Having a focus to strive towards, which is not negatively related to what I cannot do, has given me a purpose that I was struggling to find. Attending the Invictus UK Trials reignited my self-esteem and confidence, enabling me to try sports within my physical limitations that I’d not previously considered.
Looking ahead, James feels positive about his continuing Invictus journey. “I will be incredibly proud to represent Team UK at Invictus 2020, pride has not been an easy emotion over recent years as I have struggled to come to terms with my newly inhibited life. I am certain that the focused training will continue to aid my physical recovery and, as a positive consequence, improve my resilience to dealing with the inevitable bad days.”
“Previously, I have hidden my symptoms and limitations, both in the workplace and at home, but Invictus 2020 instils a sense of pride in who I am and the journey so far. Being part of a team where I belong means I no longer feel like an outsider, finding excuses for the things I cannot do.
"I will be truly honoured to stand alongside hugely inspiring people and proud that I am somebody.
“Over the last two years I have spent a number of months shielding at home and not leaving the house which has meant I’ve had to adapt my training, predominantly virtually on the turbo trainer and through Zoom circuits. The Team UK sessions that were set up early, really defined the team ethos and provided the motivation and inspiration to keep training even when there was uncertainty about the games.
When I was eventually allowed out the first thing I did was jump on my bike and go for a ride around the local lanes…it was fantastic! I have also competed in a couple of local criteriums and time trials once restrictions allowed to build on my skills and experience.
Swimming training has been more difficult to train for due to restrictions in the gym, but, as always, I have adapted and overcome through team circuits and starting to do some open water swimming.
With the understandable but disappointing postponement of the games, I have found new challenges to keep me motivated and well, including completing a 270km virtual cycle from Calais to The Hague on the original opening ceremony of the IG2020, with support from fellow Team UK competitors, coaches, friends and family, and more recently completing the challenge of cycling Land’s End to John O Groats."