Royal Navy personnel take part in Invictus Games in the Hague

Serving and veteran Royal Navy personnel are among the 59-strong Team UK competing at this year’s Invictus Games.

The games, which are being held at The Hague, begin on Sunday and return following the pandemic.

The games, which were established by the Duke of Sussex in 2014, aim to provide an opportunity for wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans to compete in sport.

The first Invictus Games were held in London, with events then held in Orlando, Toronto and Sydney.

Lieutenant Commander Richard Gray, who will captain the cycling team, wants to use the games to show others that they too can achieve in the face of adversity,

“To have my children see me wearing the Invictus Team UK colours with all that they represent will prove to them that daddy is the master of his own destiny,” said the 42-year-old, who will take part in the time trials and criterium, as well as the 50m and 100m freestyle swimming events.

“Invictus reminded me that after all I have been through, the two most important things in my life never gave up on me, my children. I made a promise then to never give up for them. I want to find out what I can do and how hard I can push myself to be the best version of me I can be.”

Lieutenant Commander James Rogers, who is also competing in the same events as Lt Cdr Gray, said: “I will be incredibly proud to represent Team UK at the Invictus Games in The Hague. Pride has not been an easy emotion over recent years as I have struggled to come to terms with my newly inhibited life. I am certain that the focused training will continue to aid my physical recovery and, as a positive consequence, improve my resilience to dealing with the inevitable bad days.”

The 35-year-old completed in a 270km virtual cycle from Calais to The Hague and cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

They will be joined by RN veterans:

Former RN Leading Hand Russell Hunt, 35, will compete in the cycling, indoor rowing and is a member of the rugby squad.

“Invictus has allowed me to feel proud of myself again, to feel worthwhile and it’s a feeling I want to continue. I have previously tried to get help but nothing yet has helped as much as being part of the Invictus family.”

Former RN aircraft handler Stuart Padley will compete in the archery and indoor rowing events.

“Taking part in the Invictus Games The Hague will enable me to move forward with my recovery and be part of a team with similar challenges. I have found that focusing on sports has helped immensely with my mental well-being and fitness.  It has made me more determined than ever to carry on with the Invictus journey.”

Fellow veteran Jonathan Platt, who was selected for the shot putt and long jump, as well as cycling and powerlifting events, said the games have spurred him on.

“Being selected to represent Team UK is not only be a massive achievement but will give me the drive and determination to accelerate in sports and being able to build new relationships with team members and coaches. My road to recovery is long and won’t stop after Invictus selection.”

Nigel White, who left the RN in September last year after 25 years with the Fleet Air Arm, will take part in discus, cycling, indoor rowing and powerlifting events.

He said: “Because I have a progressive, possibly degenerative condition I will never be able to fully complete my recovery journey and possibly some of the sports I’m training in now, I may be unable to participate in, in the future. So, I want to make the most of this opportunity while I can and possibly inspire someone who has been in a similar position to take that first step outside their comfort zone and maybe set them on the road to being a future member of Team UK.”

Former Royal Marines Lance Corporals Paul Hartley and Paul Gray are both in the wheelchair rugby squad.

In addition, Lt Col Scott Wallace RM supports Team UK as a Wheelchair Basketball coach. 

I have found that focusing on sports has helped immensely with my mental well-being and fitness.

Former RN aircraft handler Stuart Padley