After bringing home a bronze and silver medal at the Toronto Invictus Games last year, Michael Mellon has his sights firmly set on the gold for Sydney! In this blog, we hear how he is feeling about this year's Games…
RAF Regiment veteran, Michael Mellon, has been selected to take part in this year's Invictus Games in Sydney, competing in the sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.
Having returned with a bronze and silver medal from the Toronto Games, Michael has his sights firmly set on bringing back the gold this year. Michael is the only Scottish athlete taking part in this year's Games.
Since the 2017 Games in Toronto Michael has kept in touch with many of the other wounded, injured and sick veterans who also took part and enjoys the feeling of camaraderie that he says he lost when he left the RAF in 2005.
Michael, 38, says: "When I left the RAF I really struggled to transition back into the civilian world. It was before the times of social media and so I lost contact with most of my former colleagues. The RAF Regiment lads have a sense of humour like no other, the banter is great and I really missed it. Meeting up with people who have been through similar things as me makes me feel part of the military again."
Michael, of Cardenden, was just 17 when he joined the RAF in 1997 following his father, sister and brother into military service.
In 2001, while playing in a RAF Rugby match, Mike fractured his tibia and fibula bones which resulted in compartment syndrome; this occurs when something blocks the blood flow, causing a pocket of pressure to build up (hence the compartment) and starving nerves of oxygen.
Michael was subsequently downgraded in his role as a Gunner and eventually four years later he was medically discharged.
More than 10 years went by and Michael was still suffering with daily pain and on-going health issues, so he took the difficult decision to have his left leg amputated.
Previously a keen sportsman, Michael was facing life as an amputee and a wheelchair user. But things began to slowly improve for Michael when he was reintroduced to sport. The RAF Benevolent Fund, were able to assist Michael during his recovery by funding a specialised wheelchair, enabling him to compete in various wheelchair sports.
Michael explains: "Sport really did help turn my life around. When I was medically discharged from the RAF we moved to my wife's hometown of Fife and I became a house husband. It was a difficult time for me, I gained a lot of weight, I wouldn't leave the house and I was suffering quite badly with depression.
"But then I received the funding for my specialised wheelchair and it made such a difference. Both physically and mentally, sport has played such an important role during my recovery. Getting a second chance to take part in the Games is an incredible feeling. I'm ready to get out there and get going.
"I’m taking part in a new sport this year; wheelchair rugby, which I'm really excited about. Watching it from the stands in Toronto last time was awesome. It's one of the more physical sports and the atmosphere was amazing. I'm excited to see how that goes and I love the team sports, that's what it's all about really."
Joining him in Sydney will be his three kids, Ryan, 13, Eve, 12 and Sarah, seven, along with his wife and parents.