An Islander injured whilst serving his country in Iraq back in 2007 has represented Great Britain in the Invictus Games in Florida.
Jonathon Giemza-Pipe sustained a spinal injury and suffers from Chromic osteoarthritis, but that he not held him back from taking part in the Invictus Games in Orlando, a competition for wounded Service men and women.
“I took part in archery (novice), shot and discus. Whilst I was disappointed not to make it past the qualifying rounds, I am very proud to be part of an amazing team. To say that everyone is pumped up would be no exaggeration, especially with the added spice of taking on the Americans in their own back yard! So far I’d say we’re giving a pretty good account of ourselves. The folks here in Orlando could not be more friendly and helpful, and the air of positivity is quite infectious.
“From a personal point of view, I’m proud to be here, with my own beautiful family, without whose patience, love and encouragement I wouldn’t have made it. I’m surrounded by some incredible human beings, even if my participation in the sports has come to an end. Some of these folks are carrying their wounds openly, many, many more have them buried deep down. If these individuals collectively don’t inspire you, I’m not sure what can?”
It’s not just Jonathon’s family who he has to thank. The sportsman was partnered with canine partner Toby in July 2014, whose training and subsequent partnership with Jonathon has been funded by Help for Heroes.
“Toby brought with him a new lease of life, and I know that everyone who is fortunate enough to be partnered with one of these incredible animals says this, but it is so true. Having Toby means that I now have a structure to my day, even if I have lost that which the military gave me.
“I honestly believe that having a canine partner makes you a healthier person. We must go into the fresh air on far more occasions during the day than our ‘undamaged’ colleagues who only see the sky when they come and go to work.
“Seeing Toby chasing a ball, greeting other dogs on the beach before heading back to me, makes me feel fantastic. He seems to know instinctively when I am about to have a severe pain episode, where I tend to withdraw inside myself. Toby gets up on my knee and pushes his head against mine, and gives me a much needed distraction.
“It’s been amazing to see how perceptive he is with the rest of my family. If someone is down or upset, he is quick to move over to them, knowing that some Toby time is needed!”