Invictus Games Call Up for Lisburn Army Veteran

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Drive and determination keep Mark Clougherty focused both on and off the athletics track.
The Ards Rangers coach has his sights firmly set on fulfilling his sporting potential at this year’s Invictus Games in The Hague, Holland, as the only representative from Northern Ireland.
Mark, 47, has a range of physical and mental health issues, including Complex Regional Pain Syndrome as a result of a double right leg fracture, spinal and hip injuries and has PTSD following an incident in Iraq and a testicular cancer diagnosis.Since attending the US Air Force Trials in February 2018 and the Invictus Games Trials in Sheffield last summer, Mark – who has lived in Lisburn with his family for 13 years – has taken up athletics, cycling and rowing.He said: “I will compete in a racing wheelchair, over the distances of 100, 200, 400 and 1500 metres, in both the Time Trial and Criterium on my hand bike and rowing in both the one and four-minute rowing events.”“Being selected for Invictus 2020 is not only an achievement for myself but also, for my family, who’ve not only supported me over the years but, have endured a lot of lows too through my illnesses, especially when diagnosed with cancer and the resulting PTSD.“It affects my mood – I experience anger, anxiety and depression – and I have daily pain, which can affect my sleep and quality of life at times. It can also affect my mobility which can affect participation with family activities.”

The former Royal Military policeman is being put through his paces at the Invictus Games training camps delivered by Help for Heroes to ensure he’s properly prepared for the international sporting competition.

The fifth Invictus Games from May 9th to 16th brings together over 500 competitors from 19 nations to compete in a series of adaptive sports.

Mark, originally from Clydebank in Scotland, was medically discharged from the army in 2013, said: “Being a keen sportsman all my days, to have the opportunity to participate and represent the country in such a massive sporting event, whilst at the same time, hopefully showing others, that no matter how bad things can get, you should never stop fighting or pushing on to achieve new goals!

“It gives me a focus every day; short and long-term goals going forward for the future, as well as introducing me to new activities and the physical benefits it has with helping with my mental health.

He added: “Help for Heroes has helped provide funding towards my hand bike and supported me in terms of sporting activity opportunities. They have also provided psychological support and the opportunity to meet others who are dealing with similar issues.”

from Athletics NI

ABOUT HELP FOR HEROES

  • Help for Heroes supports men and women who have been physically or psychologically wounded whilst serving in the British Armed Forces. We help them, and those still serving, to recover and get on with their lives. We also support their families, because they too can be affected by their loved one’s wounds.
  • Since the charity was set up in 2007 it has supported more than 22,000 people.
  • The charity relies on donations from the public for 98 per cent of its income
  • The latest data from the MoD shows that, on average, five people are medically discharged from the Armed Forces each day.
  •  A study launched in January 2016 by Help for Heroes and King’s College London found of the 750,000 men and women who served as Regulars between 1991 and 2014, at least 66,000 need long term support.
  • For more information, visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk