Stephen Ashcroft will be balancing his Invictus Games journey with completing a PhD in crop genetics. The RAF Regiment veteran was a very keen sportsman and rugby player before he was injured in 2010 by an IED. It took six months to learn to stand again and three years to regenerate his tibia which lost ten centimetres in the blast. The slow recovery and altered physiology left him in chronic pain, affecting both my his and motivation. “I turned my back on exercise, simply focussing on what I ‘could not’ do! Although putting on a brave face, I still mourned the man I was.” Fortunately, a friend suggested he attend an Invictus training camp at Loughborough and he hasn’t looked back. “This reignited the relentless part of my personality that was ever-present in my military career and I made a personal commitment to reach my physical potential.
Since then I am unrecognisable in my optimism and my capacity for exercise has soared.” Stephen now trains at least four times a week and has already lost 13kg, resulting in reduced pain and increased mobility. He added: “As a soldier, it was commonplace for friends and family to consider me as strong, unshakable and able to tackle anything head on, without question. I possessed an unyielding confidence that I took into battle in the knowledge that I was superior to my enemies. However, after my injuries, this confidence was lost. Since being involved in Invictus my world has flipped. A relentless flame of motivation has been reignited which forces me to challenge myself physically, in ways that I thought had long since passed.
I now train with purpose and a vigour reminiscent of my former self which has transcended my entire lifestyle. I have the confidence to push my body, without looking for excuses based on my injuries and am driven to reach my new found potential. I am ashamed of the attitude I adopted towards my health since 2010 and endeavour to discover my potential with renewed positivity. I now feel empowered by my capacity rather than restricted by my limitations.”