Captain Ben McComb from Catterick Garrison has been selected to represent Team UK at next year’s Invictus Games at The Hague in the Netherlands.
He joined his teammates for the first time at the Honourable Artillery Company in London at an event also attended by the games’ founder, the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry.
The athletes – 89 per cent of whom have never taken part in an Invictus Games before – will now undergo training camps delivered by Help for Heroes to ensure they are best prepared for the international sporting competition next year.
When Captain McComb received the email telling him whether he’d made the UK Invictus Games team, his wife Faye knew from the look on his face that he’d been successful – “I was elated!” he says.
Although still serving, his role within the Royal Artillery has had to change since damage to the nerves in his legs back in 2012 became progressively worse and prevented him carrying out his former role of troop commander.
The impact of this on his mental health has been huge and Ben, who grew up in Liverpool, struggled to cope until he realised that, just because he can’t do the sports he used to love, doesn’t mean he can’t still compete.
Swimming is his favourite, and, in The Hague, he’ll be taking part in the 50m Freestyle, 50m Backstroke, and 100m Freestyle, as well as archery and shot & discus.
“My injury has a huge impact on my day to day life. I’m in so much pain when I walk that I often can’t even play with my children and, because all the sport I used to do involved running, which I can no longer do, I backed away from sport altogether for six years,” said the father of Archie aged one and Seb, four.
“All this pretty much destroyed my mental health in 2014 and again in early 2018. But now, I am very much on top of things, very proud to be competing which has enabled me to remain focused and positive and demonstrate to my sons that you shouldn’t give up!”
Ben was a member of the Help for Heroes team for the 2019 US Warrior Games and it was attending training camps for that which reminded him just how much he missed competing in sport. He trains every day in the gym at Help for Heroes northern Recovery Centre, Phoenix House in Catterick, and is now very keen to demonstrate, through his participation in the Invictus Games, to all those that are still serving but who have a serious, long term injury – as does he – just what you can go onto achieve.
“One of the great things about the Invictus Games is its profile, and therefore it’s an amazing opportunity to inspire others in a similar position to myself,” said the 32-year-old.
Hannah Lawton, of Help for Heroes and Chef de Mission for Team UK, said: “The 65 men and women selected to represent Team UK will not only gain a personal recovery benefit from taking part in the Games but they will hopefully inspire others suffering with life-changing injuries or illnesses that anything is possible.
“Our competitors are proudly serving their country again and showing that they will not let their injury or illness define them. As a team, we are especially proud of the fact that 89 per cent of Team UK have never competed in the Invictus Games before.
“The legacy of the Games is strong, and they are providing a gateway for more wounded veterans and service personnel to benefit from the Help for Heroes Sports Recovery programme.
“We are very proud to be working alongside these 65 athletes and wish them the best of luck as they embark on their Invictus Games journeys.”
Invictus UK is delivered by a partnership comprising Help for Heroes, The Ministry of Defence, and The Royal British Legion.
To enable Help for Heroes to support more wounded ,injured and sick veterans and Service personnel like those who benefit from taking part in sporting activities, visit https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/give-support/donate-now/