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WATCH: Meet the Cornish athletes competing in the Invictus Games

Invictus Games Team UK Depart

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 7:00am 20th October 2018. (Updated at 7:48am 20th October 2018)

Two athletes from Cornwall have touched down in Sydney to compete in the Invictus Games.

A 72-strong team of wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans have arrived in Australia to represent the UK in the fourth event.

Nine athletes from Devon and Cornwall are joining competitors from 18 nations to compete in 11 medal sports.

Among them, Debbie Godfrey from Torpoint and Mark 'Dot' Perkins from Bude.

The event will begin with an opening ceremony on 20th October at the Sydney Opera House.

"Today is the culmination of months of careful preparation by all 72 competitors and the many staff, friends and family who have supported us.

"The next two weeks will demonstrate the unique power of sport to support recovery.

"Team UK are ready, raring to go and enjoying the camaraderie which the Armed Forces is famous for."

Captain of Team UK, Mark 'Dot' Perkins

The Invictus Games is an international multi-sport event for wounded military personnel and veterans.

Getting involved in sport provides significant physical and mental health benefits including increasing self-confidence. For many it is a second chance to proudly represent their country once again.

Of this year's UK team, over 60% are new to the Invictus Games.

More hopefuls than ever before, 451, trialled for one of the 72 places available on Team UK.

The rigorous selection process was based on the benefit the Invictus Games will give an individual as part of their recovery, combined with their performance and commitment to training.

"Team UK have been working extremely hard for this moment and are ready to do the nation proud in Sydney.

"Achieving their goals with the British public behind them provides an incredible springboard for the recovery journeys that will continue long after the Games have ended.

"We are very grateful to our partners and sponsors who have helped make this opportunity possible."

Jayne Kavanagh, of Help for Heroes and Team UK Chef de Mission

Meet the Cornish athletes:

Debbie Godfrey from Torpoint - Sailing/Archery

Royal Navy veteran and Plymouth nursing student Debbie Godfrey from Torpoint will be competing in Sailing and Archery.

For the last few months the 49-year-old has been juggling her time, studying for a demanding nursing career with travelling some 1500 miles to Invictus training camps at weekends. 

Debbie says the Invictus Games has been a life-changing experience for her:

"I felt a little bit like a paper bag. I wasn't grounded. But I'm grounded now. I have got focus and doing Invictus will actually help me with my nursing degree, because they are both about determination."

Deborah Godfrey - Invictus Games
Debbie Godfrey from Torpoint is competing in Sailing/Archery

Debbie was a Master-at-Arms before being medically discharged just two years short of her full 22 years' service. She says it was a devastating blow for her:

"I was medically discharged due to back and knee injury. It was a really sad time to be discharged. I had 19 months to serve."

At the time, she was pregnant with her younger daughter Bethan. Because of the disappointment of leaving the career she loved and the limitations due to her physical injuries, she withdrew into family life and gave up 
the sport she loved.

After nine years Debbie finally found Help for Heroes thanks to Bethan. Her daughter was making cakes to raise money for the Charity, when Debbie realised there was help and support available for her and joined up.

Team Captain Mark 'Dot' Perkins from Bude - Cycling/Rowing

Former Royal Signals Corporal Mark "Dot" Perkins, who is from Bude and now lives in Cardiff, is using the Invictus Games to improve his overall wellbeing and inspire those he works with that there is still life and success after injury.

Mark says it has given him a renewed purpose in life: "Invictus has given me focus to look after my injuries and physical wellbeing, and I guess most importantly, myself in general. After four years of intensive rehab I just lost my way, putting on weight, becoming more deconditioned and lacking motivation."

Mark Perkins - Invictus Games
Team Captain Mark 'Dot' Perkins from Bude is competing in Cycling/Rowing

After surviving an incident in 2000, which claimed the lives of two of his colleagues and left him with physical and psychological wounds, Mark had a medical discharge from the Army in 2005. He now works as a civil servant rehabilitating injured soldiers.

He has been supported by Help for Heroes Sports Recovery team and was chosen to Captain the GB team following a rigorous selection process.

"For many years I have been struggling with pain and survival guilt and have previously just put my head in the sand. The Invictus Games has not only assisted my pain by making me healthier and stronger but has also returned my previous drive. Being part of the Invictus Games will only continue to drive me in my recovery."

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