October 27, 2018

Invictus Games: gold and team bronze for Britain!

Britain's Jennifer Collins will be heading home from the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney with two medals: individual gold and team bronze.

The 37-year-old former Flight Lieutenant from Hook, who was medically discharged from the RAF last year, topped the recurve open rankings, earning a bye into the semis, then beat Hannah Marguerite Stolberg of the USA to earn a gold medal showdown with Australia's Jocelyn McKinley.

It was close though. Jennifer (pictured top left) took the first set 27-23 but then the Australian fought back to edge the second. That pattern was repeated in the following two sets. It all came down to the last three arrows. McKinley shot 26 - but Jennifer went one better to take the title 6-4.

She had already known she was on top form. Earlier, she, Poppy Pawsey and Scott McNeice powered to team bronze. They beat Poland 6-2 before being edged out of a shot at gold by Romania. That left them facing the Netherlands and with a point to prove.

They lost the first set by a single point but then won 43-41, 46-37, 43-42 to take the medal 6-2.

Nine other UK wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans took part in the archery competition. They were brought together as a result of a partnership between Help for Heroes, the MOD and the Royal British Legion.

Royal Marines musician Poppy, who was seeded fourth, was denied a place in the individual open quarter finals by Hannah Marguerite Stolberg of the USA. Fourteenth seed Scott was the only Briton to reach the men's eliminations. The former Army healthcare assistant who is now an amputee, faced Fabian Frily. The prize was a place in the quarter finals but it went to the Frenchman who won 6-0. Royal Marines Colour Sergeant David Watts was seeded 19th and just failed to make the cut.

Novice Debbie Godfrey was seeded second after qualification. That gave the 49-year-old former Master-At-Arms Wren a bye into the quarter finals where she faced Nikki Murillo of Canada in a real nailbiter. But Murillo hit form at just the right time to edge a 6-4 win and is now in the gold medal match.

Danny Shanahan and Phillip Gillespie also made it through to the novice eliminations. Fifth seed Danny, a 42-year-old Army veteran, fought hard but was denied a place in the quarter finals, losing 7-1 to Denmark's Johan Hoeg Hansen. Phillip, a 30-year-old former Army Corporal from Ballymena, was ranked 10th. His dreams of a quarter finals spot were ended when he was beaten 6-2 by France's Cyril Camille Ludovic Auxant.

Two other Britons just failed to make the cut. Daniel Phillips, a 36-year-old former Army Corporal from East Sussex qualified in 18th place and Paul Guest, who made headlines around the world, was 22nd. Paul, who was injured while serving as a Royal Navy mine warfare specialist in 1986, was competing in a wheelchair tennis match when a helicopter flying overhead triggered his PTSD.

Dutch teammate Edwin Vermetten immediately realised what had happened and comforted him. In a gesture that showed exactly what the Invictus games are about, Edwin held on to Paul, encouraging him to sing Let it Go from the film Frozen, until he felt that he could carry on.

You can find the results and the Games website here.

The UK team. Top line, from left: Jennifer Collins, Paul Guest, Debbie Godfrey, Danny Shanahan, Poppy Pawsey. Bottom line: Scott McNeice, Daniel Phillips, David Watts and Phillip Gillespie. Pictures: Help for Heroes

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