Going for gold at Invictus Games
24 May 2018
A University staff member selected for Great Britain at this year’s Invictus Games will make major sacrifices in a bid to add to his medal collection.
Lee Matthews, of Magor, Monmoutshire, is juggling his work in the School of Healthcare Sciences with a gruelling training programme.
The 29-year-old is desperate to succeed at this year’s Games for injured, wounded or sick service personnel.
The preparation required for his chosen events of powerlifting and wheelchair basketball demands his full mental and physical commitment.
The challenge is huge because he suffers from a condition that limits the use of one of his legs and leaves him in chronic pain.
But despite his dedication and competitive spirit, the Games are about far more than personal success for Lee, an Assessments and Student Cases Officer at the University.
Lee served in the Army Air Corps between 2006 and 2014, completing a tour of Afghanistan in 2008, but was diagnosed with viscero-somatic pain syndrome in 2010 following a routine operation.
“I have nerve damage in my left leg and the lower left of my back, and have chronic pain. I have numbness and loss of use of my left leg.
“There are some days when your body wants to shut down. It has got progressively worse and there’s the mental health aspect too. It can be quite difficult.
“But I’m definitely in a good place. I’m preparing and we’ve got a lot of training camps coming up before the Games.”
Lee has won a gold and a silver medal for Great Britain in the wheelchair basketball at previous Invictus Games so knows what it takes.
“I’m aiming for gold in the powerlifting and for us to be competitive in the basketball again,” he said.
The Invictus Games, started by Prince Harry in 2014, are for veteran and active service personnel who are wounded, injured or ill.
They aim to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding of those who serve their country.
Lee is appreciative of the efforts of Prince Harry to promote the Games and support the athletes.
“I’ve met Prince Harry a few times and I used to work with him; he was a pilot in my regiment,” he said. “He’s down to earth and understanding. He’s so supportive of us.”
This year’s Games take place in Sydney from 20-27 October.