Finals Day and a Gold Medal to honour Dave’s memory

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Finals Day. And what a day! Always a big day, but even more so today as I had a promise to keep. First up was the 100m, despite my best efforts I came in second to take the silver medal. But if you’re going to lose, it might as well be to a guy with a name like Stix McGavin! That’s 2 silver Invictus medals in the 100m (my first in Orlando in 2016) – that’s now my nemesis, that’s my mountain to climb! I know I can smash a Gold. Next time!

Next up was the 200m. This was the one. This was for my friend and colleague David Barnsdale, who didn’t return home. As I stepped out onto the track I said a little prayer to Dave and took a few moments of quiet contemplation. Head down. Focus. Blood pounding through my body, nerves firing and adrenaline pumping I was on a knifes edge – then a false start! A sprinters nightmare. Gathering myself again was tough, pulling everything back in, re centring myself and getting poised once again. Deep breath… My pace was good, I was pleased with the bend and I just put everything I had into the final straight. I think I let out a guttural cave-man like growl as I came over the line (certainly looks like it from the photo finish!) and I knew I had done it. Gold. Gold for Dave, and a heart felt nod and recognition to all our comrades who never came home and to their families who feel their loss every day.

Very little time to rest and it was on to the 400m final. I hate this one! I always say if I’m not vomiting by the end of it, I haven’t tried hard enough! It’s a horrible distance to sprint. To get up to speed and keep on it, through bends and over that distance is hellish. I did it though! Another Gold! My heart swelled as both my children raced out to the podium to help me collect my medal.

Off the podium and finished for the day, or so I thought. On my way back down the tunnel I was pinged for the 400m relay – something a double above knee amputee should never do! We’re a liability with the way we have to kick our legs out. No one can, or should get too close. As my team mate found out on the final leg. As he approached me to tap me in, his leg caught mine and we both came crashing down. He got a gash to his leg, and we lost the race. I wasn’t going to finish on the floor though. I got up, dusted off and sped off for what looked to some like the fastest 100m I’d put on in the whole two days! No fourth medal, but a race complete and nobody seriously injured. I’d say that’s the best win. That and the pride I felt for all my team mates for their triumphs sporting and otherwise over the last few days. Definitely off for a beer tonight to celebrate, and I’m really looking forward to getting over to cheer on my mates in their competitions over the next 5 days. Good luck everyone!