A SUPERHUMAN effort by a former army major from Rugby has seen her strike gold at the Invictus Games in Canada.
Dr Jen Warren, who works at University Hospital Coventry (UHC), has won five medals at the international Paralympic-style event for wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and veterans.
Today (Wednesday September 27) she won the gold medal in the Women’s Handcycling IHB1/IHB2 Criterium, having already won a silver for handcycling, and two silvers and a bronze for wheelchair racing – with her swimming events yet to come.
The anaesthetist suffered severe nerve injuries which affected her ability to use her left leg after a 2008 skiing accident, and now predominantly uses a wheelchair when working in the theatres at UHC.
Jen was named vice-captain of the UK Armed Forces Team in Toronto after winning eight silver medals and one gold at last year’s tournament in Orlando, Florida.
Jen said: “It was amazing to be part of the 2016 games, and in my wildest dreams I never imagined I would win so many medals.
“I was inspired to train for the Invictus squad after watching the 2014 games on TV, and participating last year was a life-changing experience.”
She said it was an honour to be chosen – let alone named as vice-captain – for this year’s UK team, which was selected and trained by charity Help for Heroes.
And she is especially proud to be able to support her teammates – over 60 per cent of whom are making their Invictus debuts in Toronto.
“It’s really special to know people were inspired by me last year, so signed up and got selected this year,” she said.
“The brilliant thing about Invictus is the chance to meet and compete against service personnel from all over the world. I’m not the only Invictus athlete working in medicine or healthcare, and it’s great to share experiences.
“I’ve learned a lot from my time as a patient and it’s amazing to see what can be achieved whatever someone’s illness or injury. I have loved seeing what team mates have achieved beyond Invictus, so I’m really excited for the new faces on this year’s team.”
Jen, who lives with her husband Jon and three-year-old daughter Sally, added: “I feel participating in para sport helps me to be a better doctor and mum. It’s obviously helped my fitness which gives me more independence but it’s also given me more confidence and helps me cope psychologically with my busy job and the day-to-day challenges of my disability.
“It’s fantastic to put my training into practice. While I am competing against others, I feel my main competitor is myself; I’m always looking to do my best.
“I’m honoured to represent former servicemen and women and raise the profile of para sport.”
The Invictus Games, in which 550 wounded, injured and sick veterans and serving personnel from 17 nations are competing in 12 sports, runs until Saturday (September 30). TV coverage is available on the BBC.