Wounded Colchester soldier hoping for Invictus Games place
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A soldier whose left foot was shattered by an explosive in Afghanistan is in the running for a place on the UK team at the next Invictus Games.
Major Bruce Ekman, of Headquarters 16 Air Assault Brigade, is bidding for a place in the 400m and 1500m races at the Paralympic-style competition for wounded armed services personnel and veterans in Florida in May.
Maj Ekman, who lives in Colchester with his wife Candice and children Tatum, five, and Trent, two, was one of six casualties when their patrol vehicle hit an IED in July 2011.
The 36-year-old, who now wears an off-loading brace to support his damaged foot, won bronze in the sprint race and silver in the mid-distance event at the 2014 Games.
He took part in trials launched by Prince Harry at Bath University last weekend, along with more than 200 other soldiers and veterans.
South African-born Maj Ekman, a logistic planning officer who has also served in Iraq during his 12-year Army career, said he was “really privileged” to be taking part in the process for a second time.
He said: “It’s such a well organised competition and the chance to compete alongside other injured servicemen is amazing.
“A big shout out to Prince Harry and the chaps from Help for Heroes for organising it so well. You know, just to get everyone in a room together, all the athletes, because a lot of the people who were injured, especially in Afghanistan, we’ve all been through the same cycle.
“Having this sporting event to look forward to has meant I’ve been able to have something to focus my training on.”
During the trials Maj Ekman got a personal best, and is hopeful of a place when the UK team is announced on April 6.
He added: “I think the Armed Forces now have really adapted in terms of the rehabilitation that we get and the care we get. They’ve taken someone like me, whose foot was shattered – I had to have my ankle fused together and seven or eight operations on it.
“But now with the technology they’ve got, I can crack on and soldier. I’ve passed all my basic tests, the physical training tests.
“Before I got my injury I really enjoyed road running, I’ve now got myself up to 10k race level and I’m looking forward to running a 10k race at some time in the future.”