Holly Goodberry, The Legion’s Invictus Games Friends and Family Project Manager, says friends and family are an integral part of a competitor’s journey.
“The Legion saw how key it was to have friends and families involved in the journey,” Holly says.
“We see them as the team behind the team and their support of an individual through that journey and beyond is very important. We make sure that we support that and recognise and support them in the best way that we can.”
The Invictus Games were set up in 2014 by Prince Harry to aid in the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded, injured and sick military service personnel and veterans. The inaugural games were hosted in London in 2014 at the Olympic park, and saw more than 400 competitors from 13 nations take part.
This year, in its fourth year, The Invictus Games will take place in Sydney between the 20-27 October with more than 500 competitors form 18 nations due to take part.
We met some of this year’s competitors and their friends and family at a roadshow in Colchester, where they were finding out about what they can expect at this year’s games.
Wayne and Shane
Former Colour Sergeant Wayne Harrod, 48, will be representing the UK in the Invictus Games for the second year running. In Toronto last year Wayne took home a silver medal in the Men’s Road Cycling IRB2 Time Trial and finished in sixth place in the Men’s Road Cycling IRB2 Criterium event.
This year he has been selected to take part in the cycling events at the games in Sydney and once again hopes to bring home a medal.
In 2004 Wayne had his leg amputated after he was injured by a reconnaissance vehicle but stayed in the army until 2011. Wayne credits his friend Shane for getting him into cycling after he was medically discharged in 2011.
“The reason I am in the games and race is because of the gentleman beside me, Shane.”
Shane and Wayne at an Invictus Roadshow in Colchester in August.
This year Shane will be travelling to Sydney to support Wayne.
“It’s about giving something back because I went to Toronto last year with other family and friends but to say that I am at the games again and to take somebody that believed in me, who saw me just socially and then helped get me on the bikes with the other guys and then to go racing … it’s important that he’s here with me to show support and say thanks a lot Shane,” Wayne says.
For Shane he can’t wait to see his friend compete; “It’s really great to be able to go along with one of your friends and give him all the support that you can give him. I’ve known him quite a few years now and he’s come a long way in a few years and I’m just going to give him everything I can.”
“It’s going to be lovely just to see my friend spin around that track and hopefully he’ll be wearing something at the end on that podium,” Shane added.
Michelle Turner, 39, is Vice Captain of the UK team and will be taking part in rowing and swimming events at this year’s Invictus Games in Sydney.
The former RAF Sergeant has a heart condition which causes unannounced collapses, exhaustion and extreme dizziness. This led Michelle to confine herself to her house through fear of collapsing in public.
Last year Michelle was selected to compete in both swimming and rowing events at the Games in Toronto for the first time. Unfortunately, due to ill health she was unable to compete in the pool so feels like she has “unfinished business” this year. Michelle did however, come sixth in the Women’s IR6 four-minute endurance indoor rowing event and 11th in the Women’s IR6 one-minute sprint.
Michelle attributes the support of her family and friends as one of the reasons she has been able to achieve what she has, especially her husband John who was keen for her to take up sport after her illness.
“They [family and friends] have seen us at our worst, they’ve started this journey with us way before they saw us in the military, they’ve saw us at our highs, then they’ve saw us at our lows and obviously when all our injuries or illnesses happened.
“And they’ve gone through this whole journey with us, so for us to have them by our side in Sydney it’s just a chance for us to make them proud of us again.”
Ethan, John, Michelle and Maya (from left to right)
John is excited to once again see Michelle take part in the Games; “I was fortunate enough to watch last year and it means the absolute world to us because I’ve seen Michelle at her lowest and now to see her flourish amongst everybody else who is going through the same situation,” he says.
“It’s amazing for us to get together and watch this and to see her get out of the house and smile and just be herself again.
“I’m looking forward to Michelle achieving what she wants to achieve out there. She sets little goals, so her little goal is to swim and just compete so I just want to see her achieve that. And watch and spectate as much as I can because it’s an amazing atmosphere around.”