Kettering veteran selected for UK's Invictus Games team
A man from Kettering has been named as part of Team UK for the 2020 Invictus Games to be held in The Hague.
Craig Styles, a British Army veteran, will be competing in wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball at the games which is an international multi-sport event created by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex for wounded or injured armed services personnel and veterans.
The 65-strong team was announced today in an event attended by Prince Harry in London ahead of the games in May 2020.
Craig lost his right leg below the knee when he was serving after a tank accident in 2000.
Despite his amputation, Craig was determined and continued to play rugby for Kettering RFC and was the only amputee playing 15-man full contact rugby.
Sports was an important part of Craig's recovery and he said: "When it is not possible to continue with a military career that was once a large part of a soldier’s life, it shouldn’t be underestimated what a positive impact and life changing effect team sports can have."
In 2010, Craig was injured in a match and unfortunately had to have his right knee amputated.
Craig then discovered wheelchair rugby during the 2012 London Paralympics and quickly secured a spot on the Northampton Saints team and was made a reserve for the Invictus Games last year.
He said: "Although a reservist for Sydney, I still felt part of The Invictus Games. The feeling of being part of a
team again was amazing.
"The comradery and the banter we have is the type you only get with squaddies and veterans. You can be yourself around other veterans as they are also going through some tough times.
"We help and support each other. Carpe Diem.”
More than 350 military personnel and veterans took part in trials for one of the 65 team spaces available across nine sports and Craig is one of those 65.
Team UK will compete in athletics, archery, wheelchair basketball, cycling, power lifting, indoor rowing, wheelchair rugby, swimming, and sitting volleyball.
Julia North, recovery manager for the East, 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."
The team will be training from now until the games start on May 9, 2020.
Sports has been an important part of Craig's life, he said: "Sport has given me the confidence to aim high and achieve results a few years ago I may not have felt were possible.
"It gives me the relief of all worries that I have. When playing I am fully focused on the job in hand. I wish I could play sport all the time as when playing I feel a different person. I feel like I am able bodied again”.
Craig said sports was not just about his physical recovery, but has been beneficial in other ways too.
"I am so proud of what I have achieved so far on my journey. Meeting people on similar journeys has
given me the strength to pursue other disciplines where I feel valued.
Being part of Team UK with such inspiring people gives me strength; whether learning from other teammate’s own journeys or helping others through my own challenges.
"I am now working for Northamptonshire Police. This is all down to Help for Heroes and the Invictus Games Journey. The support they have given me, to make me who I am today, has given me the confidence to hit the apply button," said Craig.
Invictus UK is supported by a partnership of Help for Heroes, The Ministry of Defence and The Royal British Legion, who all support British personnel and veterans.