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Meet the Black Country war heroes selected for the Invictus Games

By Steven Jones | Halesowen | News | Published:

Six inspirational war heroes from the West Midlands have been chosen to take part in this year's Invictus games.

Karl Hinett

The Invictus games is an international adaptive multi-sport event, created by Prince Harry, in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and their associated veterans take part in sports.

The team of 72 competitors selected to represent the UK at this year's competition in Sydney was unveiled earlier this week at Horse Guards Parade.

The group came together for the first time since selection at the iconic London venue and were joined by Prime Minister Theresa May, who posed with the athletes for the first official team photograph and wished them luck for the Games in October.

Karl Hinett, 31, from Tipton, is among those chosen.

Karl, who will compete in athletics, suffered severe burns in a petrol-bomb attack in Basra, Iraq in 2005 when his Warrior tank was petrol bombed during a rescue operation.

The attack left Karl with 37 per cent burns all over his body and face. Some of the burns were so bad, they went down to the bone. He was just 18.

During his recovery he got into fundraising, running more than 150 marathons and raising thousands for different charities, including the hospital that helped him.

The Black Country war hero was also recognised when he was asked to carry the Olympic torch in the run up to the 2012 Olympics.

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He said: "Since being discharged in 2008 I have felt lost and found it difficult to create targets and goals.”

"I'm hoping for a healthier lifestyle, a better mental outlook, for myself and my family, and to become a continuous role model for my young son by being an active happier family.”

Also taking part will be Veteran Army Lance Corporal Clive Smith, from Walsall.

Clive Smith

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This will be the third Invictus games for Clive, who plays wheelchair rugby.

He lost both of his legs above the knee in a blast in Afghanistan in 2010 when attempting to defuse a bomb which exploded.

Sapper Smith remortgaged his home in 2015 to pay for the £90,000 medical procedure to allow him to walk with bionic legs.

Clive has also featured as the face of the Royal British Legion's National Poppy Appeal.

He said: “I have fantastic support at home - my wife enables me in everyday life to live it to the maximum.

"She ensures I can put full focus into my passions and challenges.”

Dave Watson, from Halesowen, will compete in archery, athletics and rowing.

Dave Watson

Dave was in Afghanistan in 2010 when he was on patrol, tasked to find an improvised explosive device.

While on duty, he turned to help a fellow solider who had fallen down. As he twisted to turn he took a wrong step on to an explosive device. He lost both legs and his right forearm.

He said: “Sydney 2018 is a chance to prove that there is no limit and that being an amputee is not the end of my sporting journey.”

David trains twice a week with a British Athletics coach and is working towards competing internationally.

He added: "The Invictus Games gives you the power to believe in yourself and become a member of an amazing team.”

Pa Modou Njie, from Birmingham, and Paul Twitchell and John Hill, both from Telford, are the other Midlands-based athletes competing.

More hopefuls than ever before - 451 - trialled for one of the 72 places available this year.

The team will compete in 11 different sports at the games and will train from now until October in various locations across the country.

Steven Jones

By Steven Jones
Trainee Reporter - @SJones_Star

Trainee reporter based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton. Get in touch via steven.jones@expressandstar.co.uk.

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