Invictus Games 2016: Six Welsh warriors taking part

Six Welsh military veterans are part of the 108 strong British team out in America for the Invictus Games.

The five-day event got underway when the games were opened by Prince Harry in Orlando, Florida.

The prince, who founded the games for injured veterans, said he hoped they would also inspire people affected by mental illness to seek help.

It is the second time the games have been held, following the success of the inaugural event in London in 2014.

Representing Wales as a para-athlete at an international level “is phenomenal” said indoor rowing competitor John Prosser, from Caerphilly.

He has had several parachuting injuries during his 25 years of military service, which has left him with little strength in his legs.

“I am thrilled to be chosen to take part in the 2016 Invictus Games. Taking part in the games will give me the competitive opportunity to see if I can take my training to the next level and develop further.

“The one thing I have learnt over my journey with Welsh Rowing and Sports Recovery at Help for Heroes is the physical and mental healing power of sport.”

The Welsh competitors:

Image copyrightHelp for Heroes

John Prosser: Caerphilly

During the first 12 years of a 25-year-long military career, Mr Prosser sustained a series of parachute jump injuries. Over the last two years he became determined to get fit again, losing 4st (26kg) following surgery, and with the assistance of Welsh Rowing and Llandaff Rowing Club in Cardiff, he began indoor rowing.

In 2015, he won gold in the Welsh indoor rowing championships, and silver at the British event.

As well as rowing, he is taking part in the 50m freestyle swimming.

Donna Davies: Caerphilly

A British Army veteran, the former Corporal represented the British team in the first 2014 games. Now a swimming teacher, she has arthritis in her knee. This year she has been swimming again, but is also trying out new sports, including discus and shot.

She said she had used the chance to train for Invictus 2016 to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and hoped it would inspire her daughter to be physically active too.


Ian Taylor: Powys

Corporal Ian Taylor has already been taking part in the opening heats of the games in the 100m freestyle swimming competition.

He suffers from constant and chronic back pain which affects his lower and upper thoracic areas.

Ian feels that participation in the Invictus Games will greatly improve his quality of life.


Lee Matthews: Magor, Monmouthshire

A former airtrooper in the British Army, Lee suffers from the condition Visceral Somatic Pain Syndrome which results in chronic pain in his lower back and left leg.

He uses a wheelchair and walking aids to get about and uses sport to help his recovery, both physically and mentally.

He represented the GB team in the 2014 games – coming home with a gold medal in the wheelchair basketball event.

Mark Lloyd: Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taff

Another rower – and swimmer, Mark suffered spinal and leg injuries while serving in Afghanistan. It has also left him with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“You’re not disadvantaged when you’re competing here,” he told one national newspaper as Prince Harry met the British team in London last month.

“All you can do is your best, and as long as you keep pushing and never give up, you can’t ask for anything else.”


Michael Matthews: Brackla, Bridgend

The former Lance-Corporal in the Royal Welsh, his back was fractured in two places by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

Now he is taking part in the games in both the wheelchair rugby and cycling events.

“I used to cycle and play rugby prior to injury, so it was good to find an adaptive sport that would combine what I used to do,” he told Forces TV.

“The aggression and the passion is still the same as what normal rugby players would do.”

We wish them luck!

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