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Wounded soldiers bid to be stars of Rio 2016
4:35pm Thursday 24th October 2013 in News
WOUNDED soldiers have been put through their paces to see if they could land gold medals at the Paralympic Games in 2016.
A team from the British Paralympics Association visited Help For Heroes-run Chavasse VC House, Colchester’s personnel recovery centre, to trial 20 veterans and soldiers.
They have been pushed to the limits of their endurance on bikes, in the pool, in rowing machines and on the bench press.
Among those trying out was former 3 Para Private Ben Lancaster, 24.
Dad-of-one Ben, of Colchester, was injured in a road-side bomb blast in Afghanistan in February 2011.
As well as needing metal plates behind his right knee and lower leg he lost much of his hearing.
Ben, who served with the Army for five years until August, said he would be willing to take up any sport he showed an aptitude for.
He said: “I was invited down and it was a really last-minute thing.
“I’d never thought about trying out. But certainly I would love to do it and take up a sport.
“I’ve been training to become a medic and am hoping to find employment in January.
“After today if I was lucky enough I would probably like to be chosen for the bench and strength competing but to be honest being chosen for anything would be awesome.
“It’s been extremely tough and really challenging, especially with my injury.
“But I’ve loved it.”
At London 2012 about 20 per cent of Paralympians were from military backgrounds.
Soldiers trying out yesterday hope to travel to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in 2016.
Russ Sinclair, physical development officer at Chavasse VC House, said he believed by the time the Tokyo 2020 Games came round, half of Team GB’s paralympians would have Armed Forces history.
He said: “We jumped at the chance to offer this to the guys.
“In Colchester we have got a lot of guys at the peak of their fitness thanks to 16 Air Assault being here.
“Some of them here today are veterans who have come back to test their mettle and were completely unaware of the Paralympics.
“This will allow them to transfer their skills and drive to the games.”
The event was part of the Front Line to Start Line programme which is a partnership between Help for Heroes and the British Paralympic Association.
The testers will collate the information and send it off to the individual Paralympic teams.
Those that are successful will be called in to try out again and if chosen will be offered funding to train for the Paralympics.
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