Glenrothes veteran prepares for Games
Stuart Padley is one of just two Scots selected for the 65-strong UK team to compete in The Hague in May.
Aged only 32, Stuart is recovering from a stroke in January 2018, which left him with mobility problems and language impairment.
The Royal Navy aircraft handler had always been passionate about playing sport – golf his first love, followed closely by football.
However, since his illness and competing at the Invictus UK Trials in July, Stuart has taken up indoor rowing and archery and will compete in both sports.
He trains every week on a specially adapted rowing machine at the Michael Woods Sports Centre, under the watchful eye of Glenrothes personal trainer Jamie McDonough, and does his archery training at Windmill High in Kirkcaldy, as well as attending regular training camps organised by Help for Heroes.
Stuart found out he had been chosen to represent the UK last October.
He said: “I was ecstatic when word came through that I had been selected for the Invictus team.
“It has done so much for my recovery and given me a purpose. It has been good to be back with servicemen and women and meeting other people.
“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. I am going for gold!”
Personal trainer Jamie was initially paid by Help for Heroes for ten sessions but is now giving up his time voluntarily to support Stuart until the Games.
He said: “Stuart has come on fantastically well, especially since January when we started training three times a week.
“He has become stronger, fitter and more muscle resistant. He is enjoying the training which is the main thing.
“It has been a new challenge for me but one I have really enjoyed.
“Stuart never complains, everything I put in front of him he smashes it. He has a never give up attitude and I am very proud of him.”
Stuart has been supported throughout his recovery by his partner Jacqui Allan and her mum Margaret, who drives Stuart to his training sessions.
Margaret said: “The whole family is so proud of him and he has had great support from his friends.
“It is amazing to see how much he has achieved, not just physically but mentally as well.”
More than 350 military personnel and veterans trialed nine sports for one of the 65 places available on Team UK.
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.
The team will compete in nine sports from May 9-16: athletics, archery, wheelchair, basketball, cycling, powerlifting, indoor rowing, wheelchair rugby, swimming, and sitting volleyball.
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 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.
Anyone serving or veteran wounded, injured or sick and in need of support, or interested in how sport might help their recovery, can more information by visiting www.helpforheroes.org.uk/get-support/.
To enable Help for Heroes to support others in their recovery visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk/give-support.