Former RAF Corporal, Sally Renard struggled since her accident whilst on tour in Afghanistan, subsequent hip operations and the loss of her father.
“In 1997 I joined the RAF as a logistics mover, which involved loading aircraft whether it was freight, people, vehicles. I loved it.
“Just before Christmas in 2006 I was out in Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, and the first aircraft of the night came in. I’d gone over to the forklift truck, and before I knew it, the door of the forklift got blasted into the back of my leg.
“I remember waking up in the hospital, and when I looked at my leg it was extremely swollen from top to bottom, and I couldn’t put any weight on it.
“I knew I wasn’t badly injured, I just needed that recovery time to get me back into the swing of things, so that I could get back into doing a sport that I loved.
“During my recovery some of the treatment I was receiving for my knee was aggravating my hips. They found out the problems with my hips were going to need surgery. My recovery journey suddenly became a lot longer.
“I’ve always used sport to make me the most positive person that I can be and I was lucky to take part in various sports throughout my military career.
“I had my RAF medical review board in 2010 and I went in there full of hope thinking they were going to let me get back to taking part in my sport. I walked out of there being told I was no longer allowed to do any competitive sport, and no contact sport. I felt my world collapse. It took away part of me.
"I left the air force in 2014 and my life became centred around being a fulltime mum. I needed a challenge other than just being a mum, so I went along to the 2019 Invictus Games trials ran by Help for Heroes in Sheffield. I took part in all the swimming events and went on to win them all.
“I remember speaking to my girls each night and they said “Mummy, we are so proud of you”, it was an amazing feeling to be back competing. The most important thing is I can make my girls and my husband the proudest they can be.
“I had lost my 'spark' and the ability to be comfortable with being happy. But being selected for Team UK allowed me to be part of a team again. It helped me lose my fear to laugh and the guilt I felt when I was happy. It was amazing to be around all that positivity.”
“My family have been really supportive. They've realised how much I've needed this and have stood by me through all the training camps and even helped with my training for the games. My girls and husband have run with me, they’ve even taken me to our local running track and made sure I got on the rowing machine! My husband had to take on dual parenting during the training camps doing all the things I would normally do to keep the family running... Mum things!”
“It meant the world to me to actually have them cheering me on at the Games. I felt so proud of them and the encouragement and cheering me on, no matter what event I did, gave me an enormous sense of pride. To see them at the finish line or at the end of a race telling me how proud they were of me was the most amazing feeling that any parent could feel, the best feeling in world. It was made even more amazing when my daughter said "Mummy, I want to be like you!”
“The Games were the beginning of my journey not the end. It has given me the confidence and drive to continue to seek new challenges and ambitions beyond my present comfort zone.”
“I used to be a swimming teacher 25 years ago. I would love the confidence to be able to teach again. I sometimes crave the opportunity to help others and I believe this is the area I can focus on to help my recovery. I want to be able to help others who are experiencing the scenarios that I have faced. I have witnessed at first hand the benefits that sport and teamwork can have on my personal recovery journey.”
“Since the games we have been spending time as a family, we love swimming, running and going out on our bikes. We also love going on walks through the common land and along the canal where we live. The girls love to climb trees and be taken on picnics as well. They also love being in the sea and have taken to copying me by learning to bodyboard. They love playing in the waves and being on the beach. Being outdoors is our favourite place to be.
“The space, tranquillity and the freedom that outdoor space gives us, makes us all happy. Being with nature is very special and precious where we can teach the girls so much about the world and our environment. Being able to explore and find new places, as well as spotting animals/birds is what we all love to do. Family time is the most precious time you can have.”
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