Cockermouth Soldier’s Invictus games triumph
Cockermouth Soldier’s Medal Haul
Imagine combining recovering from life changing injuries sustained during tours in Afghanistan with the dedication and training required to repeatedly win medals at Prince Harry’s Invictus Games.
Well that’s exactly what Cockermouth solider, Luke Reeson has gone on to achieve. Defying all the odds, the Cumbrian swimmer took home four medals, including one gold after competing in the most recent games in Orlando, Florida.
Overcoming his injuries, 28-year-old Luke joined more than 600 injured servicemen and women from 15 different countries to compete at the prestigious games.
Describing how he took the plunge into the pool, the former Keswick school student, said: “I was injured in Afghanistan, and when I came home I was going through physiotherapy. Because I had been shot in both legs I couldn’t do any walking, running or even riding a bike, so my physio recommended swimming.
“I went to the pool in Carlisle where I was living at the time and did a couple of events so it just kind of went from there and I got a chance to go to the Warrior Games in America which is what inspired the Invictus Games.”
Despite undergoing numerous operations to remove metal and fragments of bullet in his leg after being shot in Afghanistan, this is the second time the war hero has scooped medals after also taking part in the 2014 games.
Despite suffering from sickness and dehydration after arriving at this year’s inaugural games, the 28-year-old corporal from the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment put in a series of impressive performances at the swimming finals of the tournament.
He went on to bag gold in the 50m breaststroke and relay, silver in the 50m backstroke and 100m freestyle. In the 50m breaststroke he even knocked two seconds off his personal best, coming within a second of the British record for his category.
Luke said: “When I was first injured I was pushed to do a lot of resettlement and retraining to get a new job. But I sort of got a second chance and I wanted to do something that I enjoyed and that I had a passion for so I quite literally dived into the deep end. I had a go and found out that I was pretty good at it. In the past I swam with a club but never considered doing it competitively on a professional level.”
Set up by Prince Harry in 2014, the Invictus Games uses the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.
Luke, who took part in trials for the games in January and February, travelled to London for Prince Harry’s Invictus Games launch at Buckingham Palace.
As a youngster Luke represented his county and the North of England but, at the age of 12, gave it up in favour of playing rugby. He is now qualified as an ASA Level 1 swim teacher and is completing his Level 2 in August. He also volunteers at his local club in Cockermouth and works with Help for Heroes to support wounded, injured and sick at the charity’s open water and pool swimming training.
Luke who has been retained in the Army in a full time sports position is not planning to rest anytime soon. With the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics on the horizon Luke’s ultimate goal is to compete for Paralympics GB, he also has the World Championships and perhaps another Invictus Games to look forward to.