REPRESENTING queen and country once again is something John Shepard is greatly looking forward too.
Army veteran John, 38 from Gosport, will be representing Team GB at the Invictus Games later this year.
John, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), says that he won’t let this hold him back, and hopes to inspire others suffering from it to get help and get back into the world.
He said: ‘I was medically discharged from the army after being diagnosed with PTSD.
‘This year there has been a push for more people with mental health conditions. I told my wife – this year is my year.’
John says he is immensely proud to be representing his country once again.
He said: ‘If I’m being honest it still hasn’t quite sunk in for me yet.
‘It doesn’t seem real, but the opportunity to go to Sydney and represent my country again is simply fantastic.
‘When I left school I had no qualifications and was told I had no future.
‘Now, having done time in the armed forces, I’m an international athlete going to the Invictus Games – so that’s certainly proved a few people wrong!’
John will be taking part in four events at the Invictus Games – joining 71 other participants in October as Team GB looks to bring home the top prize.
He said: ‘I will be taking part in the dinghy sailing, indoor rowing, 100m and 4x100m.
‘I have done two training camps recently. We did a bit of sailing over in Portland in Dorset at one of them.
‘The training camps we have had so far have been fairly relaxing, but the toughest work is definitely still to come.
‘I’m feeling quite confident about it because it will feel very homely – I’ll be out there with fellow service personnel so it will almost be like I’m back in the army again.’
But while bringing home a gold medal is John’s dream, he is also hoping to raise more awareness for people living with PTSD.
He said: ‘Some people still don’t know a great deal about what PTSD is and so its really important for me to raise awareness.
‘To have people with PTSD competing in the games will mean that there are more people asking questions about it, and that can only be a good thing.’
The Invictus Games will run this year from October 20-27.