A Navy veteran from Fife is already looking ahead to 2021 after the coronavirus crisis ended his dream of representing Team GB at the Invictus Games.
Former Navy aircraft handler Stuart Padley from Glenrothes should this week have been packing his bags for the Hague as part of a 65-athlete squad.
With the May games, which bring disabled military veterans from around the world together to compete in a variety of sports activities, having to be cancelled because of the global pandemic, Stuart was faced with the prospect of eight months of intense training being wasted.
Supported by forces charity Help for Heroes, Stuart is recovering from a 2018 stroke which left him with mobility problems and language impairment.
Stuart had been passionate about sport before his illness and since competing at the Invictus UK Trials in July 2019, he had taken up indoor rowing and archery and was selected to compete in both sports.
Until the crisis, Stuart, now 32, was training every week on a specially adapted rowing machine at the Michael Woods Sports Centre in Glenrothes, under the watchful eye of personal trainer Jamie McDonough, doing archery sessions at Windmill High School, Kirkcaldy, and attending regular training camps organised by Help for Heroes.
However, despite the disappointment, Stuart has vowed to keep focused on next year’s rescheduled event and said he is now more determined than ever to come back a winner.
“While I am disappointed the Games have had to be postponed I am staying positive that an extra year of training will allow me the time to get fitter, stronger, better.
“I was ecstatic when I was been selected for the Invictus team. It has done so much for my recovery and given me a purpose.
“The training has helped me overcome the difficulties from my stroke.
“It was very hard for the first year, I couldn’t move my right leg or hand and had no speech, but since then I have been on the up.”
Hannah Lawton, Team UK Manager said the decision to postpone the Games because of the risks posed by covid-19 was “absolutely the right decision” by the Invictus Games Foundation and the Organising Committee.
She added:”Our priority is ensuring the health, welfare and safety of our Team UK competitors and their Friends and Family.
“The challenges our competitors have overcome and the progress they have made to be where they are today is not to be underestimated.
“We remain a strong team and are all there to support each other during this time and I am unbelievably proud of what Team UK has achieved together.”
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