Athletes representing 13 spinal injury units from across the United Kingdom and Ireland attended the 31st Inter Spinal Unit Games tournament in Stoke Mandeville from 16-20 April 2018. The flagship sports event for newly injured spinal unit patients aims to help participating individuals discover and compete in a range of wheelchair sports.
The participants received expert coaching and demonstrations from leading wheelchair sports athletes and experienced coaches.
Ex-serving Metropolitan Police officer, Kris Aves, represented the National Spinal Injuries Centre team from Stoke Mandeville hospital at this year’s tournament. Aves, 36, was injured in the 2017 terror attack which took place on Westminster Bridge. He spent eight days in an induced coma and suffered several severe injuries.
While his rehabilitation has been challenging at times, Kris has made excellent progress with the help of the National Spinal Injuries Centre and believes sport and exercise have played a central role in his rehabilitation.
“Sport is a big, big thing and it’s worked for me, is still working for me and I think it will work for everyone else,” Aves shared.
Aves thoroughly enjoyed his time at the Inter Spinal Unit Games and was able to secure a medal for his team. He was impressed by the camaraderie and loyalty shown by all participants.
“It was a great experience and was a good few days filled with a lot of fun but also some exceptional sportsmanship,” he said.
“What I think is great about the event is that you’ve got teams who have travelled so far to be here, to represent their own spinal unit, and it just goes to show how much respect they have for their hospital. They are just grateful and being picked for their hospital’s team, and having the opportunity to try new sports at the event, means a lot!”
Through generous support from donors and sponsors, WheelPower hosted another successful Inter Spinal Unit Games, where participants reaped the rewards of wheelchair sport.
WheelPower Chief Executive, Martin McElhatton, said:
“At WheelPower our aim is to transform lives through wheelchair sport and it is encouraging to see that, once again, all the participants fully embraced the opportunity to try a variety of sports at this year’s Inter Spinal Unit Games.
“The patients with spinal cord injuries have discovered first-hand what they are able to achieve in terms of sports participation and leading active lives after injury. WheelPower are confident all of the participants will return home full of confidence and with the desire to continue playing sport, and find an activity they love in their local area. We are pleased to have been a part of their journey into wheelchair sports participation and are excited to follow their future progress.”
Find out more about WheelPower at www.wheelpower.org.uk