The wounded veterans and serving personnel of Team UK met for the final time last weekend, training at Brunel University London ahead of travelling to the Invictus Games The Hague.
The 61-strong team – 91% of whom will make their Invictus Games debuts – came together for their final training camp at Brunel’s campus in Uxbridge, set up in friendly competition format to give them a taste of what to expect when they arrive in the Netherlands.
Team UK competitors were originally selected in October 2019 to compete in the May 2020 Invictus Games. When the pandemic hit, it was shifted to 2021, but uncertainty forced a second postponement. The event will now take place in The Hague, home to the Dutch seat of government, from 16 to 22 April.
Competitors rose to the challenge of keeping their fitness and spirits up during multiple lockdowns by altering their routines to take on virtual training online, as well as getting outdoors where restrictions allowed.
Having not seen each other in person since the start of 2020, the team, along with coaches and support staff, attended the first post-lockdown Invictus UK training camp in November, and have continued to join weekend camps, provided by Help for Heroes. The Charity is responsible for the selection, training and welfare of UK competitors. Last weekend, Team UK’s friends and family cheered them on from the sidelines, supported by the Royal British Legion.
Team UK – presented by BAE Systems – will compete in nine sports: athletics, archery, wheelchair basketball, cycling, powerlifting, indoor rowing, wheelchair rugby, swimming and sitting volleyball.
Training sessions for many of these sports were held across Brunel’s facilities:
- the Indoor Athletics Centre, unique among London universities and one of the best indoor training facilities in the country, with a 132-metre, 6-lane sprint and hurdles straight track and a dedicated weightlifting area
- the athletics track at the Sports Park, certified to World Athletics standard, with a 400-metre, 6-lane polyurethane track, high jump and triple jump area, as well as a full throwing facilities
- the netball hall in the Sports Centre.
All these facilities are fully accessible for athletes with disabilities – supported by attentive staff.
Help for Heroes’ Hannah Lawton, chef de mission for Team UK, said: “The journey to an Invictus Games is always massive for every single competitor as they learn to adapt to life-changing injuries and illnesses, and manage daily struggles, before even getting to the point of applying to compete. None of us imagined that Team UK would have the added challenge of a pandemic and – by the time they get to The Hague – a delay of two years.
“These competitors are well versed in taking on challenges, though, and I’m so proud of the commitment they’ve shown to the team, whether that’s in keeping up with training virtually, supporting their team-mates or recognising when they need to step back and take a break.”
Ed Walker, Brunel’s Assistant Head of Sport, said: “We’ve welcomed Team UK to our facilities here at Brunel every year the Invictus Games have run since 2017. Our facilities meet international standards and have details, such as indoor and outdoor tie-downs to keep wheelchairs still for throwing events, which really make a difference for athletes with disabilities – whether they’re visitors to our West London campus or our own student athletes.
“It’s always a pleasure to see the dedication and power of the athletes and the camaraderie of Team UK, and I’ll be cheering them on throughout the Invictus Games later this month.”
Invictus UK is delivered by a partnership comprising Help for Heroes, the Ministry of Defence, and the Royal British Legion.
Brunel became a signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant in 2016, with support for Invictus Games preparations being a key cornerstone of our commitment to positively engage with the Armed Forces and Veteran communities in many different ways.
Press Office, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 266867 email@example.com