MELKSHAM athlete, Harvey Paris, won a silver medal in the Invictus Games trials last month, and now pins his hopes on being selected for the Great Britain team for the 2020 games.
During the Invictus Games trials in Sheffield over 22nd-26th July, Harvey competed in both wheelchair rugby and endurance rowing events. He came away with a team silver medal in rugby and two personal bests in rowing.
Harvey joined the British Army as an REME apprentice in 1982. He was then selected for officer training after a tour of duty in the Falkland Islands in 1986 and commissioned from Sandhurst in 1987.
Having developed a medical condition while serving, for which he needs essential daily treatment, he was added to the wounded, injured and sick list which qualifies him for the Invictus Trials.
Harvey told Melksham News, “When you arrive at one of the training camps, you identify what sport you are interested in trying. I first chose endurance rowing.
“The sport has two different categories, one minute endurance and four minute endurance. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but Usain Bolt runs at 100% effort for under 10 seconds. Try putting in 100% effort for one or even four minutes. During the four minutes, you can row up to 1200 metres!
“After I trained for this, they asked me if there were any other sports I’d like to try, encouraging me to look into wheelchair rugby. But, I said ‘I’m not in a wheelchair’ but that didn’t matter, so I gave it a go.
“It was full of people with mixed abilities from men, women and teenagers and those who are wheelchair users and those who aren’t. As a life-long rugby player it was really exciting to get to try it!
“I then went to more camps and training for my two chosen sports and then competed in the Invictus Games trials in Sheffield in both the wheelchair rugby and the rowing.
“The rugby team was full of new and experienced players so we didn’t expect to do well, but we only lost one in seven games, and that loss was only by two points!
“Therefore, we made the final and it was an incredible experience, the stadium was lit up, there was entrance music and lights. The BBC filmed it too, it was great. We took a beating in the first half, but the second half we brought it back, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. So we came away with a silver medal – which is still an achievement for such a new team.
“In the rowing, I achieved two personal bests, just short of the podium which was a bit disappointing, but there were 50 people competing, so I’m happy with that.
“The vehicle for recovery that the games bring service men and women is brilliant. Also, the support you get from all the athletes and their families. It gives you a goal, a drive to achieve something. I get up at 6am, train, then do a full day at work, then train again. I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t have something to aim for.”
The selection for next year’s Invictus Games GB team will be announced in October.
Harvey added, “I am nervous, I would love to be selected, but if i don’t make it this year, then I can try again next year.
“It’s not just about getting into the games, it has helped me create a good exercise habit. It has stopped me from moping in the corner, sat on the sofa feeling sorry for myself in regards to my illness.
“The Invictus Games are special because even though people win the trials, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be selected for the games. They take into consideration what the training and trials have done for your recovery.
“You could have come 15th, or 50th, but it is all about how the games have impacted you personally.
“The 2020 GB Invictus Games team will feature 65 athletes, and I hope that I am chosen as one of them to represent GB.”
Photo: Theo Cohen/Invictus UK.