AN ARMED forces veteran who competed in the Invictus Games says that more veterans should try and get involved with sports.
John Shepard, 38 from Gosport, travelled to Sydney last month for the Invictus Games, competing in the dingy sailing, indoor rowing, 100m and 4x100m.
Living with PTSD after his time in the army, John says that games has not only helped to refocus him, but also get his PTSD more under control.
He said: ‘The atmosphere was incredible – every stadium we went to was at full capacity.
‘Being at the Invictus Games really helped me with my PTSD; we’re all in a similar position and it feels just like serving again.
‘There’s that banter and camaraderie that you expect from forces personnel and it’s a very comfortable environment.’
Despite not returning home with any medals himself, John did beat a few personal bests, as Team UK bringing home a total of 72 medals.
John said: ‘I got personal bests in the rowing, 100m and the sailing, which I’m really proud of.
‘I've already applied to take part in the next one and can’t wait to get back into training for it – it’s something that I can really focus on.’
Since returning home, John has become somewhat of a local celebrity, with people recognising him in the street.
He said: ‘I went down to help the Royal British Legion with their poppy sales one day and people were recognising me – that was a bit weird but in a nice way.
‘Then I was wearing my Invictus tracksuit at the remembrance parade and could hear people talking about seeing “the guy we watched on telly” which was quite funny.’
Visiting the mayor’s parlour in Gosport Town Hall, John presented the mayor, Cllr Diane Furlong, with one of his T-shirts from the event and a wristband before sitting down with her, council leader Cllr Mark Hook and armed forces champion Cllr Marcus Murphy to discuss his adventure down under.
Cllr Furlong said: ‘We have a huge number of veterans living here in Gosport and it’s great to have someone like John who can be an example to them – to show that they can do something positive.’