Invictus Games UK team members get support from LJMU sport scientists

LJMU is providing expert sport science advice and access to its sports facilities to two Invictus Games Team UK competitors.

Among those being supported is Merseyside based Team UK Vice-Captain Dave Curtis, Everton in the Community’s Veterans’ Hub Coordinator. Dave will participate in the 100m, 200m, long jump and shot put, as well as the cycling time trial.

In the lead up to the competition, which takes place in Dusseldorf this September, LJMU’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences and Sport and Physical Activity Department will offer support to Dave and fellow local competitor, Ross Freer, under its pledge to support veterans and the wider Armed Forces community. Ross will participate in the wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and seated athletics.

Dr Gus Ryrie, LJMU’s Armed Forces Champion and Senior Lecturer in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, said: “Dave asked the question, could LJMU support him and his fellow competitor with our sport science expertise, and we were happy to explore his request.

“He is a key partner in supporting veterans across Merseyside, always putting others before himself. So, to be able to directly support him and Ross with our expertise, of course we said yes.”

Dave being assisted in the gym by Connor

The Invictus athletes will have access to bespoke sport science support such as strength and conditioning, training programming and nutritional advice coordinated by Connor Heeney in the High Performance Sports Unit. They will also have access to state-of-the-art sports facilities in the LJMU Sport Building.

The Royal British Legion in partnership with the Ministry of Defence is leading the team of veterans and military personnel to take part in this year’s Invictus Games, raising awareness of the service and sacrifice of servicemen and women and the power of sport to inspire recovery.

Louise Assioun, RBL’s Team UK Manager, said: “When people who have served in the Armed Forces have experienced trauma or injury, participating in sports can have huge positive benefits for their physical and mental health. Sport can improve your mood, increase self-esteem and build confidence - all key skills that someone can apply to their recovery journey outside of the sporting arena. For many of Team UK, the simple achievement of doing something they thought they may never do again, whether that is competing in a team sport or just making the start line, when coupled with the physical benefits of sport cannot be underestimated.”

The offer from LJMU will complement the athletes’ training camps conducted through Team UK and supported by the Royal British Legion.  

LJMU’s support for the Armed Forces community

LJMU signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2021. Since then, it has formed a cross-university Armed Forces Steering Group, which brings together colleagues across all factions of the university to drive forwards everything from research to HR policy development to better support students and staff from the Armed Forces community, and to create positive change for the community across the UK.

It has also appointed its first Armed Forces Champion and in May 2023 gained silver status under the Ministry of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme.

Find out more about LJMU’s pledge to the Armed Forces community.

About Dave and Ross

Head and shoulders images of Dave to the right and Ross to the left

Dave joined the British Army in 2007 and served in the Queen’s Regiment. In 2009, just eight days into his deployment in Afghanistan, Dave was driving an armoured vehicle as part of a Nato convoy when it was struck by a Taliban suicide car bomber.

Ten people were killed in the attack, including the US Marine sergeant in the rear passenger compartment. The burning vehicle was flung 25 metres, leaving Dave trapped inside.

Dave’s right shoulder was badly injured in the blast, his back was broken in two places. He was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and after a period carrying out a desk job in the welfare section, he was medically discharged in 2013.

Dave has fronted Everton Veterans’ Hub since joining Everton in the Community in 2014.

Ross, from Moreton, Wirral, served for seven years with 3 Rifles. He was forced to accept a medical discharge after a freak accident left him with an incurable back condition and severe nerve damage down his right-hand side. He is participating in wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and seated athletics.

About the Invictus Games

The Invictus Games is an international multi-sport event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, both serving and veterans. It was first held in 2014 with this year’s event set to host 22 nations from across the globe.


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