The Invictus Games took place last week and we had our very own Cpl Nugent in the archery team this year. While we didn’t manage to get any results on the day we now have this report from him:
I arrived in Toronto, Canada on the 21st September 2017 and as soon as we landed there were endless crowds of people cheering and showing their support for us in the airport. It was a strange feeling and we had to have a police escort, but I felt immensely proud. The crowds continued when the UK team joined the other international athletes and their families at the Sheraton Centre, which was to be our home for the Games.
I had 24 hours to rest before the opening ceremony, which was a great chance to relax and drink in the sights of the city and we visited some of the other stadiums of Toronto. We also had a chance for some extra training!
The opening ceremony was held at the Canada Air Centre Toronto, it was absolutely unbelievable to see the support from the Canadians, who don’t have any British sensibility when it comes to cheering! We walked on stage and there was an eruption from our friends and family, it was one of my proudest moments to date.
The next day the Games began and I started training for the athletics. While archery was my main reason for being there I was also hoping to compete in the shot and discuss, but during a practice I ruptured a lower disk in my spine throwing discuss.
I was taken to St Michael's Hospital Toronto where they had to MRI my spine. After filling me full of drugs to ease the pain they began to talk of potential surgery, but the UK team doctor strongly advised against it and he urged them to let me wait it out until I was back in the UK. This gave me a lifeline to allow me to compete in archery, and I resolved to do my absolute best after a year of training.
I knew in my mind it would be one of my toughest challenges to date and I could barely stand as well as use a crutch most of the time. I had a couple of days to try and rest and then the day came for me to let my arrows fly.
The first round of the Archery was a 30 arrow shoot that would place us according to our scores. The maximum score was 300 and I was amazed to shoot myself 224 – it’s amazing what determination can get you. It got me to 10th place and so I was to compete in the second round. The second round was another 30 arrows and, as each archer took their turn, I could see that the wind was picking up. I was happy as my training had been in the wind and the rain of the UK and I could see the two athletes left and right of me missing every now and then. That gave me some confidence, but my score on the 9th set was only at 198 and so my coach was shouting encouragement at me. My first shot in the last set was a 10 followed by two 9s and everyone was astounded, especially me. It meant I got a higher score than my first round and out of 600 I had scored 450, placing me 7th overall.
I was now up against Ken Hargreaves, another UK team archer. I was gutted to be shooting against another team member. I won the first round then Ken won the second. Then we drew a round. It was nail-biting stuff, but Ken then won the third and needed to win or draw to go onto a bronze medal match. I tried my best but as I could barely stand, Ken took the win.
HRH Prince Harry watched my archery matches and was extremely impressed with the way I shot from my mouth. He admired the fact that I competed even through the pain from my ruptured disk and the Chief of Staff gave me an Invictus Games Coin, an award is only issued to those who show the Invictus spirit. HRH Prince Harry wanted to meet my wife and say thank you for her support and ask how she managed to carry me when I was at my worst and couldn't walk! He then told me that I'm punching and my wife had the biggest grin on her face. She now won't stop telling everyone that HRH Prince Harry thinks she is hot!
Overall I came 5th in the Individual Novice Recurve and then shot in the team match for the UK. We came 4th, just missing out on a Bronze by 4 points.
It was an amazing experience and archery has been an excellent sport to keep me focussed and take away the thought of pain. The Invictus Games has been one of the best things I've done in life. Having my family there with me meant so much and they have supported me through everything. The Games also gave me a chance to meet new friends and make friends all over the world, something I will always cherish.
I'd like to say WO2 Paul Sercombe – the Kiwis have been the best bunch of Invictus athletes. They are an amazing bunch of people that I can now call friends and every country competing in the Invictus Games has said the same. I met up with a friend of Pauls who he served with back in NZ.
I want to finish with a massive thank you to all the serving and ex serving members from the KRH. The support has been outstanding. It means a lot. Hussar!
KRH Association and serving members of the regiment.