Grandad Mark Clougherty from Clydebank is to compete at the Invictus Games as part of a team of wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans.

The 61 Team UK competitors – over 90% of whom will be competing in their first Invictus Games – were originally selected in October 2019. However, due to the pandemic the event was postponed twice.

It will now take place in The Hague in the Netherlands from April 16 to 22.

A keen sportsman Mark, 49, will be representing Team UK in Athletics, Cycling and Rowing.

Mark, who now lives in Northern Ireland, was a Royal Military Policeman in the Iraq War and was diagnosed with PTSD after a near-death experience.

“Sport has always been a massive part of my life, it gives me something to focus on,” he said.  “For me, this has all been about learning and just pushing yourself, but I have to say I’ve really enjoyed it.

He explained: “Being able to participate in the Invictus Games and represent Team UK will allow me to enjoy that participation again within a team environment but, more importantly, as a tool in dealing with my PTSD and in helping my family as a whole.”

Mark plans to focus on staying positive and continue his journey towards recovery, while helping others do so as well.

He said:

“In July 2021 my wife and I became grandparents to a lovely grandson named Ollie.”

“ Knowing some of my family will be at the Games supporting me has helped rekindle the fire, and thanks to a good friend, Kevin Lagan, I've got my training back on track.

“The Invictus Games training camps organised by Help for Heroes have been great, they’ve helped bring back that feeling of being part of a team environment, which has been massive for me.”

 Competitors kept their fitness and spirits up during multiple lockdowns, by altering their routines to take on virtual training online, as well as getting back outdoors where restrictions allowed.

Having not seen each other in person since the start of 2020, the team, along with coaches and support staff, attended the first post-lockdown Invictus UK training camp, in November, and have continued to join weekend camps, provided by Help for Heroes. The military charity is responsible for the selection, training and welfare of UK competitors.

Team UK – sponsored for the first time by BAE Systems – will compete in nine sports: athletics; archery; wheelchair basketball; cycling; powerlifting; indoor rowing; wheelchair rugby; swimming and sitting volleyball.

Help for Heroes’ Hannah Lawton, who is chef de mission for Team UK, said: “The journey to an Invictus Games is always massive for every single competitor as they learn to adapt to life-changing injuries and illnesses, and manage daily struggles, before even getting to the point of applying to compete. None of us imagined that Team UK would have the added challenge of a pandemic and – by the time they get to The Hague – a delay of two years.

“These competitors are well-versed in taking on challenges though and I’m so proud of the commitment they’ve shown to the team, whether that’s in keeping up with training virtually, supporting their teammates or recognising when they need to step back and take a break.”

Invictus UK is delivered by a partnership comprising Help for Heroes, the Ministry of Defence, and the Royal British Legion.