Paralympics hopeful Stuart Robinson is among a group of athletes heading to Rio de Janeiro thanks to the charity Help for Heroes.
Stuart is one of seven people chosen to be part of the Paralympic Inspiration Programme.
The programme, which was first launched in London 2012, provides athletes with an experience of several days at a Paralympic Games. It aims to provide developing athletes knowledge which will prepare them for a future games experience as a selected athlete.
Stuart, 34, from Morecambe, lost both his legs serving with the RAF in Afghanistan in 2013 when he was caught in a bomb attack. He plays wheelchair rugby and will travel to Brazil next month.
He said: “The UK is the only country which runs this programme so the insight it gives us will hopefully put us a step ahead of other nations. I will be looking at a lot of the sports we compete in to take in the atmosphere to experience it from the other side and see how the crowd affects everything. I became eligible to play disability sport quite late in my career, so 2020 will be my last chance to get into the Paralympics. It means I have got an extra incentive to make the best of trying to get there.”
The programme aims to provide an understanding of the scale and scope of the games. There will also be a rigorous curriculum that the participants will undertake, with lessons about nutrition, media, anti-doping, competition planning and goal setting, as well as being expected to keep up with their current training programmes.
The programme is developed by the British Paralympic Association and Help for Heroes and is part of their existing Front Line to Start Line programme – which aims to fast-track military athletes into sports pathways. Stuart will be spending a week in Rio watching various sports and the closing ceremony.
Jayne Kavanagh, performance pathway manager at Help for Heroes, said: “It is our hope that this experience will inspire our Paralympic Inspiration Programme athletes to dedicate themselves to their training in order to achieve their dreams of competing in future Paralympic games.”