The Invictus Games are officially underway, but for RAF Regiment veteran Luke Delahunty, he found out that he would be joining the UK team just days before they flew out to Toronto! In this guest blog Luke tells us all about his whirlwind journey to Invictus.
I competed in the 2016 Games and was placed on this year's reserve list but when I got the call two weeks ago, to tell me I would be joining the UK team in Canada I was over the moon.
I wasn't expecting it to happen so I was really surprised and honoured to be given the opportunity of representing my country once again.
I joined the RAF Regiment in 1990 and served for eight years, deploying on several overseas operations including Germany, Northern Ireland and Cyprus. Sadly, my career came to an abrupt halt when on 3 October 1996, I was involved in a serious road traffic accident.
I was riding my motorbike back from Norwich to my base at RAF Honington. As I attempted to overtake a line of traffic that was being held up by a tractor, the tractor turned in front of me.
I crashed into it and the 18-ton trailer that it was towing ran over my chest.
I was left permanently paralysed from the chest down and spent months recovering in hospital. I was just 24. Soon after my accident the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund stepped in to support me with a grant to help furnish my property along with support with my resettlement training.
In the years following my accident, much of my rehabilitation was focussed around sport recovery and I took up hand cycling, indoor rowing and wheelchair rugby.
In 2016, the Fund assisted once again by funding a racing hand cycle, enabling me to participate competitively.
As an RAF Regiment Gunner I was very fit and active. I had my whole life ahead of me, I'd barely started out in life and everything changed in a split second.
Taking part in various sports has helped give me a goal, mentally and physically. When the Fund supported me last year by funding my hand cycle I had no idea that I'd end up competing in the Invictus Games…twice!
This year I will be competing in the rowing and cycling events, and taking the bike that the Fund helped me purchase to Toronto.
The Fund really did help me get my life back on track. They were there for me at the time of my accident and they're still here for me now, 20 years on.