Brunel training camp gets Team UK buzzing

Athletes put in final prep for Invictus Games

Team bonding was in big supply when wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans came to Brunel for their last training before the iconic Invictus Games.

And the eyes of the nation’s media were on them at the Indoor Athletics Centre and running track where they prepared to compete next month in front of Prince Harry and Meghan in Düsseldorf.

With events like athletics, wheelchair basketball and powerlifting, the international competition aims to inspire, support and celebrate the Armed Forces’ wounded, injured and sick.

Claudine Martin was one of the 59-strong team on campus last week to collect her kit and take part in those crucial final sessions training together as a team.

The 38-year-old from Merton, Southwest London (pictured below) was an award-winning Army staff sergeant. She was diagnosed with the autoimmune condition lupus and finally left the Army in May.

“I used to be so active,” she said. “But I was suddenly getting very tired very quickly. I then started losing my hair, losing weight, and had no appetite. I was eventually diagnosed in 2016. It wasn’t nice to hear I had an illness I’d have to live with for the rest of my life, but it was a relief to know what was going on in my body.

“Training at Brunel has been amazing. I’m competing in lots of different athletics events and the facilities available have been great. Now that we’re trained as best as we can be, I’m just excited to get to Düsseldorf and show everyone what Team UK is capable of!”

Fellow athlete Allan Mc Sween, 40, joined the Army in 2008 and served for nearly seven years before leaving as a Guardsman Warrior Gunner 2015. It was while on a tour of Afghanistan that Allan, from Ruislip, West London, began to get a recurring pain which made walking painful. Months later, an MRI scan revealed he had hip dysplasia, needing painful surgery. “The recovery was tough,” Allan said. “But I’ve definitely become more resilient as a result. I had to learn to walk again, so now can’t believe that I’m competing in multiple athletics sports at the Invictus Games.

“Training at Brunel has been great. There’s always a huge team buzz when we’re training on-site together, and every single member of the team has made huge strides in their various sports. I feel proud watching my other team mates improve as they train, and I can’t wait to get to the Games.”

Starting on September 6 and backed by The Royal British Legion and Ministry of Defence, the Games was created in 2014 by Army veteran Prince Harry, who undertook two tours of Afghanistan in 2007 and 2012. In a new five-episode Netflix docuseries launched today, Harry talks about his own trauma and overcoming the stigma around talking about mental illness. He describes the eight-day-long Games as ‘group therapy for every single person.’

Hosted by Germany, Invictus 2023 will see 21 countries compete, including Israel, Colombia and Nigeria, before Rita Ora sings at the closing ceremony.

Emily Griffiths, Recovery Operations Lead, Royal British Legion, said: “Everyone from Team UK and RBL would like to express our thanks to Brunel University London for hosting our final weekend of preparation ahead of the 2023 Invictus Games. The facilities here are second to none and it allows the Team to get a real taste of what they will experience at the Games.”

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