War veteran Dave Watson beats his own Invictus record
Dave Watson was determined to improve his previous wins at the Invictus Games - and he certainly did.
The 32-year-old from Walton-le-Dale came away with a gold medal in shot put and discus and two silver awards for indoor rowing, improving last year’s wins of a gold in discus and bronze shot put.
The former Guardsman lost both legs and his right arm when he stepped on a hidden bomb while on patrol in Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion Scots Guards in May 2010.
Vowing not to lose his identity, he began developing his skills in discus and shot put and began attending the Invictus Games.
Each time participants go through a selection process and Dave was selected for the first time last year, in Toronto.
Aiming to maintain his champion status in the discus, he carried on training and was selected again this year.
“When I got injured remembered being in hospital, staring at the ceiling, thinking I would be a 22-year-old lad in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I didn’t think I would do anything again but I went to Headley Court and I found sport again. I managed to start walking again and was able to drive. There was a determination inside me.
“I carried on with the sports I loved. When you are able bodied you don’t really think about the paralympics, but once you see it, you know there are sports you can do. I pushed myself as far as I could and set goals.
“I don’t see myself as disabled any more. I do the same things as able bodied people. When I am in the gym I am inspiring people to show amputees and injured soldiers can do things better than able bodied people - they just need to push themselves.
“I have been going to the Invictus Games since it first started but for the first two I was not lucky enough to be selected. I used this to push myself to train harder and I was selected for Toronto in 2017.
“This year I wanted to do it again, to remain discus champion and to improve myself, taking on indoor rowing too.
“I also wanted to help other guys coming through who were new to it so they had someone to talk to.
“Invictus has helped me so much in getting back into the sports I love.
“It is also electric to have so much celebrity support. Prince Harry is fantastic for coming up with the idea as it has helped so many people who are injured or have PTSD.
“We have also had support from David Beckham, who is ambassador, and ex-England rugby player Jason Roberston, who also came out to watch us.”
Dave moved to Birmingham after his girlfriend Rebecca fell pregnant with their first child together.
They are now married and Dave has two daughters, as well as a step son.
Making the most out of his own experiences, he now works as an advocate for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham’s Fisher House project. The scheme provides a home away from home for injured servicemen and their families as they undergo expert care at the world famous centre for treating military injuries.
He adds: “I wanted to give something back for all the help I have received.
“Fisher House is for soldiers who are injured and their families to stay. We need to raise money to keep it going, so I go out and give motivational talks. I talk about my injuries to assure newly injured soldiers that everything will be okay and that there are things out there for them so they don’t feel like they are sitting at home, being a burden. I also talk to families and help everyone set goals for themselves.”