Scots veterans selected for the Invictus Games Toronto 2017

THREE injured Scots veterans have been chosen to represent the UK at the Invictus Games in Toronto this year.
Michael Mellon with Prnce Harry. Picture: SuppliedMichael Mellon with Prnce Harry. Picture: Supplied
Michael Mellon with Prnce Harry. Picture: Supplied

They include Scott Meenagh, from Cumbernauld, Michael Mellon, from Cardenden, Fife, both amputees, and Scott Simon from Aviemore, who has a brain injury and is awaiting spinal surgery.

Scott Meenagh was serving with the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment in Afghanistan when he lost both legs after stepping on an Improvised Explosive Device in 2011. He competed at the 2014 Games, captaining the British Armed Forces Rowing Team, and the 2016 Games.

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Scott Meenagh. Picture: SuppliedScott Meenagh. Picture: Supplied
Scott Meenagh. Picture: Supplied

Scott will be competing at Toronto 2017 in athletics - 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres, 1500 metres and 4x100 metres relay - and rowing. He also hopes to represent his country at the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in Nordic skiing.

Scott said: “The Invictus Games has been a life-changing pillar on my personal recovery pathway. I feel I have benefitted hugely from the effect of sport on recovery.

“Being part of the Invictus movement makes me extremely proud and being able to be part of others’ journeys is truly special.”

Michael Mellon served as a Senior Aircraftman in the Royal Air Force, before being discharged in 2005. He is an amputee and lives with depression. He will be taking part in wheelchair basketball, athletics - shot put and discus - and sitting volleyball.

Scott Simon. Picture: SuppliedScott Simon. Picture: Supplied
Scott Simon. Picture: Supplied

He says the Games are already having a positive effect on his life after leaving the RAF, adding: “I feel like I’m part of a team again, it’s like I’ve never been away from the Armed Forces.

“I gel with the other athletes and we have loads in common. I hope the main benefit for me will be regaining my confidence within a group, be able to talk to others and feel a part of something bigger.”

Scott Simon, a former RAF Flight Sergeant at RAF Grantown, will compete in powerlifting, field athletics and indoor rowing. He has a traumatic brain injury and a spinal injury, for which he is currently waiting for surgery, but is determined not to let that stop him competing.

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He currently leads British Canoeing’s Olympic Development Programme and sees the Invictus Games as his opportunity to compete on a personal level and find the identity that he feels he has lost.

Scott Meenagh. Picture: SuppliedScott Meenagh. Picture: Supplied
Scott Meenagh. Picture: Supplied

Scott said: “Sport has been a huge part of my life. Since being injured and subsequently discharged I have suffered a loss of identity, focus and goals.

“The chance to represent the UK Team has already helped me regain focus and a personal goal. The Invictus Games will provide me with the ultimate goal of training and competing to represent the UK once more.”

Prince Harry, Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, unveiled the 90-strong team of wounded, injured and sick (WIS) serving military personnel and veterans who came together for the first time since selection at the Tower of London.

More hopefuls than ever before, 306 WIS military personnel and veterans, trialed 11 sports for one of the 90 places available on the UK team. The rigorous selection process was based on the benefit the Invictus Games will give an individual as part of their recovery, combined with performance and commitment to training.

Scott Simon. Picture: SuppliedScott Simon. Picture: Supplied
Scott Simon. Picture: Supplied

The 2017 UK Team Captain was also named as former Army Major Bernie Broad, who takes over the mantel from 2016 Captain, David Wiseman.

Bernie lost both his legs below the knee due to injuries sustained in an explosion in Helmand Province in 2009.

He underwent four years of extensive surgery and rehabilitation followed by two years of assistance from the Personnel Recovery Unit at Chetwynd Barracks in Chilwell.

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He said: “Since being medically retired from the Armed Forces in 2014, I feel that I have taken my foot off the gas and become quite complacent. I have always been a keen and competitive sportsman, so I kick started my fitness regime and now regularly swim, cycle and walk.

“I am looking forward to taking part in the Invictus Games as I see this involvement as a way to re-focus me physically and mentally and to re-engage in a full, active, competitive and fulfilling life.”

On being chosen as UK Team Captain, he added: “The Invictus Games are empowering and inspire all of us as competitors to be the best version of ourselves. It allows us to be judged on what we can achieve, rather than what we can’t.

“To simply be selected for the UK Team was an amazing achievement. To then be further selected as the UK Team Captain filled me with such immense pride and it is a huge privilege to be given this honour. I definitely stood taller and my chest expanded quite a bit.”

The team will continue to train in various locations across the country as part of Help for Heroes’ extensive Sports Recovery programme and role to train and develop the team.

Over 60% of this year’s team are new to the Invictus Games and were spurred on to apply off the back of the inaugural Invictus Games in 2014, the success of the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando and the day-to-day sports recovery activity that takes place.

The team will compete in 11 sports: Athletics; Archery; Wheelchair Basketball; Cycling; Powerlifting; Indoor Rowing; Wheelchair Rugby; Swimming, Sitting Volleyball, Wheelchair Tennis and a new sport for 2017, Golf.

Jayne Kavanagh, of Help for Heroes and Chef de Mission for the UK Team, said: “With more hopefuls than ever before applying to be a part of the Invictus Games in Toronto, and with more than 60% of the 2017 UK Team being brand new to the Games, it is evident that the legacy of 2014 and 2016 is strong.

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“In the UK team, we have 90 individuals who have displayed high levels of passion, teamwork and commitment to using sport as a tool of recovery both during and beyond the Invictus Games. We are very proud to be working alongside them and wish them the best of luck as they embark on their Invictus Games journeys.”

The Royal British Legion will be supporting the friends and family, including carers, of the UK team as part of its work to recognise the vital and valuable contribution that they make to the recovery of WIS Service personnel and veterans.

The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 will take place from 23–30 September.

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Help for Heroes supports those with injuries and illnesses sustained while serving in the British Armed Forces. No matter when someone served, we give them the support they need to lead active, independent and fulfilling lives.

Its specialist teams focus on the five key areas of an individual’s life: medical, mind, body, spirit and family. The charity provides support to the whole family to help them all cope with the challenges they face.

The UK delegation to the Invictus Games 2017 is once again being delivered by a partnership comprising Help for Heroes (H4H), The Ministry of Defence (MOD), and The Royal British Legion (TRBL).

The UK delegation to the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto will be formed of 300-plus individuals, which will include a team of 90 competitors supported by 180 of their friends and families and a 50-strong support team.

The MOD will provide £150,000 of Libor money (bank fines) to support the Invictus Games. The balance of costs will be found from sponsorship with any shortfall split between H4H and TRBL.

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H4H is leading the work to train, select and develop the team for the Invictus Games.

TRBL is leading work to support the team’s friends and families in the UK and Canada. Friends and family play a critical and often unsung role in recovery, their support and involvement is key.

Jaguar Land Rover is again supporting the UK team for the third time.

The Endeavour Fund, a project led by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry which supports wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and veterans using sport and adventurous challenges as part of their recovery and rehabilitation, has provided funding to support the UK Armed Forces team who will compete during the 2017 Invictus Games.

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