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Proud Serviceman Returns Home from Warrior Games Ready to Inspire Others
17 Jul 2019
Former British Army Lance Corporal Richie O’Connell has returned from the Warrior Games in Tampa Bay, Florida where he competed alongside Team UK with other injured soldiers from around the world.
Millbank Managing Director David Hopley caught up with Richie this week to talk to him about what it meant for him to take part in the Warrior Games, how it felt to meet and bond with others in situations similar to his own, and what’s next on the horizon for him in his recovery journey.
The Road to the Warrior Games
Richie O’Connell was a Lance Corporal in the 1st Battalion of the Mercian (Cheshire) Regiment of the British Army, serving for 12 years before he was unfortunately injured in Afghanistan in 2010.
Though badly injured and suffering from PTSD, Richie since discovered a passion for archery and has adapted the sport to his injuries, which has helped his recovery both physically and mentally. He is now a Level 2 coach for Archery GB.
When Richie was given the opportunity to represent the British Army in archery at the Warrior Games in June, Millbank offered to sponsor him to help pay for specialised equipment.
Richie achieved fourth place overall in recurve archery at the Games, narrowly missing the bronze medal but impressing many of his peers and ranking top amongst the British archers.
Richie’s performance was particularly impressive given he was the only competitor on the field suffering from physical conditions in the shoot off finals.
We’re amazed by Richie’s achievement and extremely grateful to receive his gift of a Team UK shirt signed by all the British athletes.
Reflecting on his experience
Now he’s had time to reflect on his time in Tampa Bay, Richie says the Warrior Games was an extremely worthwhile, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The Warrior Games was a really important experience for me personally, and one I shared with so many other veterans I bonded with whilst over there.”
“It was tough at times with very long days and the heat to contend with, but the Armed Forces banter was in full flow, especially between me and a close friend I was lucky enough to share a room with throughout the trip.”
“One of the most humbling parts of the trip was getting the chance to personally thank members of the US Air Force team who got my teams to safety after they suffered life changing injuries whilst on operations in Afghanistan,” explained Richie. “To then be put in touch with potentially the very person responsible for saving my life on that day gave me a massive sense of closure.”
“It made a huge difference to know I had so many people at home cheering me on all the way, from my family to friends, and the businesses like Millbank who have supported me financially and allowed me to be as prepared as I could be.”
Looking to the future
We asked Richie what’s next now the Warrior Games are finished for 2019.
“I’m already looking for the next archery competition,” admitted Richie, with the more strenuous outdoor archery being an eventual goal. “Plus, there’s the potential chance to be a coach at a future Warrior Games, which would be amazing.”
Richie also hopes to develop an angling and carp fishing initiative aimed at doing more to help others deal with PTSD, not just within the Armed Forces community but also for emergency services workers who are often overlooked as PTSD sufferers.
And on top of that, Richie and has wife have just been approved to become foster carers after a year of waiting.
We wish Richie the best of luck for the future and look forward to seeing what adventures he goes on next.