UK medal haul reaches 55 on first day of Invictus Games 2016 finals

Four days of international competition are underway in Orlando, Florida at the second Invictus Games - and the UK team is already doing their nation proud and has bagged a large number of medals.

The Invictus Games are for wounded, sick and injured personnel and veterans and the semi-finals and finals began yesterday.

Petty Officer Sean Gaffney, a serving member of the Royal Navy, has a below-the-knee left leg amputation after being injured in service in 1999.

He won the gold medal heavyweight powerlifting, with teammates Ross Austen in second and Corporal Ian Taylor in joint third.

I set goals in my recovery to getting to being as mobile as I can, and I’m just smashing those goals out of the water

Paul Vice

PO Gaffney also got a silver in rowing IR5 men’s 4-minute race and gold in the IR5 men’s 1-minute competition while Royal Marine Fergus Hurst also picked up gold in the IR6 men’s four minute row and the one-minute row.

The second games are taking place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney resort. They are the brainchild of Prince Harry, who presented a number of medals on the first day.

Team UK have once again dominated the road cycling events with a haul of seven gold, 10 silver and seven bronze medals.

The races turned out to be nail-biters across the board, but none more so than the final criterium.

The UK was set to grab all three medals, but a popped tyre for the first place cyclist, Flight Lieutenant Nathan Jones of the RAF, on the homestretch caused him to crash out yards from the finish line and Canada was able to sneak in for a bronze.

Paul Vice, a former corporal in the Royal Marines, took two silvers in the recumbent bike trial and race.

He participated in the London Invictus Games in 2014 with two legs, but had one amputated shortly afterwards, with his cycling times demonstrating his determination to getting back to his peak fitness.

“I set goals in my recovery to getting to being as mobile as I can, and I’m just smashing those goals out of the water,” said Vice.

“As every soldier knows, when you get injured, you can get into a very dark place for a bit. Adaptive sports has been a massive eye opener for me and changed my life.”

A total of 12 medals were awarded across the men’s and women’s light and heavyweight divisions in powerlifting which were contested by a spread of nations that included the U.S., Australia, Canada, UK, Netherlands, France, and Estonia.

“Sport changed my life,” said UK men’s heavyweight silver medalist Ross Austen, a former Army corporal.

“I never thought in a million years that I would wrap myself in my country’s flag again,” said Ross who suffered crippling leg injuries from an Improvised Explosives Device (IED) while on patrol in Afghanistan.

Serving Army corporal Ian Taylor who won a bronze said that sport had also changed his life. “Sport has given me my life back. It’s given me motivation and something to focus on.”