Brave James McGill overcomes tragedy to represent the UK at the Invictus Games in America - The Rugby Observer
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12th Aug, 2022

Brave James McGill overcomes tragedy to represent the UK at the Invictus Games in America

Rugby Editorial 5th May, 2016 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016

A FORMER soldier whose arm was left shattered when an explosive device was activated by the Taliban will represent his country this weekend at the Invictus Games in Orlando, writes Shaun Reynolds.

James McGill will compete in the 100 metres, discus and swimming events at this year’s games which start on Sunday (May 8) and run until Thursday (May 12).

The 26-year-old, who works for Jaguar Land Rover on the buying team, will take part in his first Invictus Games – seven years after joining the army in 2009.

Now living in Coventry, McGill received multiple shrapnel and exit wounds to his arms and legs – resulting in nerve reconstruction in his left forearm with the addition of a titanium plate and pins to support bone structure.

Following the success of the inaugural event in London two years ago, this year’s games will see 500 competitors compete from 15 nations across ten sports including wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis.

Speaking after a press conference in Solihull, McGill told The Observer he feels more confident in his ability on track than in the pool.

He added: “I joined the army in 2009 and was injured during an explosion in 2012 and I’ve suffered with the mobility of my forearm as a piece of shrapnel when straight through me.

“I have a titanium plate now fitted and can use my arm a lot more than I used to be able to – tying my shoelaces proved to be incredibly challenges.

“I remember the accident crystal clear – we had occupied a compound overnight and were on foot patrol the following afternoon.

“Our group was split into two multiples – point and rear – I was the rear man on the point multiple, it was fortunate only myself that was injured.”

The Rugby-born inspiration has always made sport a key aspect of his life and took part in multiple events before joining the army as a teenager.

“I’ve always been into sport and played rugby from a young age,” said McGill.

“I took part in athletics, gymnastics and martial arts too so sport has always been a part of my life.

“The Invictus Games is a fantastic opportunity for me to show off how much my life has changed with the improvements technology and how I’ve developed.

“I heard about the games in 2014 but didn’t know how to apply until I received an emailing with links for me to have the opportunity to trial for GB.

“There was some stiff competition but I had a massive feeling of excitement when I read the letter confirming my space in Orlando.

“I’ve now represented my country at war and in sport, something I’m incredibly proud of.”

Speaking about his chances of medal success, McGill said he’s looking forward to competing in front of a large crowd and hopes to inspire fellow injured soldiers to never give up.

He said: “I’m going to have more chance in track and field but I have some confidence in my swimming ability too.

“My parents have been incredibly supportive, my Dad is an ex-serviceman and he’s told me how nice it is to see me doing well for myself.

“There’s a huge element of pride involved with the games and its received tremendous support from some of the world’s top leaders, I can’t wait to finally get underway.”

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