Updated: Tuesday, 26th September 2017 @ 5:41am

Mancunian 'real figurehead' to lead UK Team at Toronto Invictus Games

Mancunian 'real figurehead' to lead UK Team at Toronto Invictus Games

| By Becky Grey

Eight years ago, Mancunian Army veteran Bernie Broad wondered if he would ever walk again, now he is preparing to lead the UK Team at the Invictus Games, in Toronto.

Broad, a former Major with the Grenadier Guards, lost both his legs below the knee after an explosion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2009.

He was medically retired from the Armed Forces in 2014 after 32 years’ service and, three years on, was chosen as the UK Team captain for the Games, which begin on September 23.

Broad will represent the UK in golf and two-time Invictus Games medallist JJ Chalmers (main picture), who will present coverage of the competition, suggested a podium spot could be in store for the Manchester man.

“He’s a real figurehead. He’s really growing in confidence, so I’d love to see him come out and perform,” said Chalmers, who served in Helmand as a marine reservist before suffering injuries due to an IED.

“These athletes are nothing short of awesome, so for me as a broadcaster to be able to shine a light on that is amazing.

“I get to take the inspiration that I get from friends — because that’s what so many of the competitors are to me — and put that in people’s living room and show them they’ll be entertained and inspired.”

Chalmers had severe injuries to his arms, face and legs while serving as a marine reservist with 42 Commando in 2011.

Three years later, the Dunfermline man teamed up with Prince Harry to bring about the inaugural Invictus Games in London.

Now, he is working to raise the profile of para-sport and believes there is a growing interest in Britain for events such as the Invictus Games, and athletes like Broad.

“It’s my dream to present these Games because I get to shine a spotlight on these incredible athletes,” he added.

“About two thirds of the team we’re bringing are new faces and it’s probably going to change their lives.

“It’s going to be highly competitive, it might not be elite Paralympic-level sport, but the competition is equally placed and everyone is categorised so it’s going to be tough competition.

“I always watched the Paralympics as a kid, I watched the highlights on the BBC growing up.

“I knew it existed, but obviously it wasn’t until 2012 that we in the country really woke up to the power of para-sport.

“It is elite sport, so before you look at the disability you should look at the incredible athlete that the person is.”

JJ Chalmers was speaking at the multi-award winning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials from August 31 – September 3 has been established as a major international equestrian and social event in the Autumn Sporting Calendar for over 50 years. For more information visit burghley-horse.co.uk