An injured former soldier from Preston has been selected to be part of the 130 strong British Armed Forces Team for the Invictus Games.
The Games, the brainchild of Prince Harry, run from today until Sunday and feature 14 nations competing in events such as archery, athletics, wheelchair basketball and rugby for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.
Kieran Wood from Whittingham, is celebrating his inclusion in the Great Britain indoor rowing team, having battled back from a car crash seven years ago, which claimed the life of a friend and caused him severe brain damage.
Despite having made enormous progress since then, the right hand side of his body is still very weak and he has been unable to continue with the sports he enjoyed as a teenager – running and boxing.
But the installation of a gym in the annexe of his family home, where he now lives with support, has enabled Kieran to keep fit. And it was his regular daily sessions on the rowing machine that led to his selection for the British Armed Forces team.
“I want a Gold medal – not Silver: not Bronze!” said the 26-year-old. Kieran’s childhood dream was to join the Army and he became a TA Cadet at the age of 14. When he turned 18, he became a fully-fledged member of the Duke of Lancaster regiment and less than a year later was posted to Iraq for his first tour of duty.
It was on his first day home after three months at Basra that Kieran’s life changed forever.
Out for an evening with friends, the car in which he was a front seat passenger skidded and collided with a taxi in Preston Road, Longridge. Kieran spent seven months in hospital, after which he was transferred to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Headley Court.
When he arrived there, he could not walk or sit up in a wheel chair and could say only three words.
But intensive physiotherapy at Headley Court, which continues to this day by a team of professional physiotherapists speech therapists and support carers, means he can now walk and his stilted speech is improving all the time.
The former pupil of Broughton School and Newman College also works two days a week at his father’s civil engineering company, A J Wood Ltd. Kieran will be competing in two rowing competitions – the 1 minute and 4 minute distance events, plus a team event - on Saturday at Here East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London.