Whilst the 2018 Invictus Games may have finished, it is never too late to reflect on some of the incredible stories behind the competitors.
By way of background, the inaugural Invictus Games was held in London in September 2014 and was attended by over 400 competitors from 13 nations. In May 2016, Orlando in Florida hosted the second Invictus Games with 485 competitors from 14 nations taking part. In September 2017, Toronto hosted the largest Games yet with 540 competitors from 17 nations. This year the event was held in Sydney, Australia and one of the stand out athletes (amongst many) was Mark Ormrod.
Mark’s incredible story dates back to Christmas Eve 2007 when, after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) while in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, the then 24-year-old lost both legs and his right arm. His bloodied body lay still in the back of a military chopper. Thinking he was dead, medics stopped working on him and began focusing their attention on another injured Royal Marine.
“They were feeling for a pulse but I didn’t have one”, recalls Mark. “They tried putting intravenous lines into me but my veins had collapsed because of the blood loss and they put an oxygen mask on me, which didnt steam up or show any signs that I was breathing, so at that point they classed me as dead and then got to work on the other guy. Thats how brutal you have to be in that situation or else you could end up with two dead bodies. It wasnt until one of the medics walked passed me to get some equipment to go work back on the other guy that they saw my eye flutter, which meant my heart was still beating”.
That simple moment saved his life, but that life would never be the same again.
Mark woke up in a hospital in the UK a few days later. He was alive but his recovery would be a long and difficult process.
“I knew it would be hard but I had no idea how hard it would be. I was 24 when I got injured probably at the peak of my physical fitness. I thought I was invincible and then I strapped on a set of prosthetics a couple of months later and just walking on a set of parallel bars one time would wipe me out for the day and literally drain all the energy that I had and then I would have to go and rest. I had a lot of time to sit and think and contemplate and it was tough to take that in. One minute I’m as fit as you can be and the next minute I can’t walk five metres between some parallel bars because it wipes me out. That was a real low point for me and a real wake-up call to how difficult the whole rehab journey was going to be”.
Since the blast, Mark has helped inspire and motivate others by sharing his story.
Now, along with another former Royal Marine turned photographer, Matt Elliott, he is making a documentary about his life to show that nothing is impossible.
He first got into motivational speaking after working with charities.
“Because I was the first triple amputee in the UK, initially there was a lot of media interest”, he says. “I was then introduced to a lot of charities in the beginning that I didn’t know existed to look after people like myself and their families and they asked me if I would mind going to tell my story to some audiences to highlight all these guys and girls getting injured and a little bit about what the charities do. It terrified me at the beginning but I did it and started feeling more confident”.
Now he gives motivational talks around the world and hopes to use his documentary to share his message with an even wider audience.
The father of three says he wants to show the world what life is really like living with a disability, as well as support others, military or not, injured and able bodied, who may be struggling with some aspect of their life.
“We want to really go into the minute details literally from the minute I wake up in the morning; how do I get into the bath, how do I brush my teeth because these are the questions that people ask me all the time and these are the things that a lot of people don’t consider”.
On top of all of this was the training for the Invictus Games. How did he do? Well, very nicely thank you, claiming two gold medals in the indoor rowing events and then earned a further two gold medals and a silver in the pool. He was also awarded the prestigious Jaguar Award for exceptional performance, determination and dedication.
Well done Mark, you are truly an all round inspirational person.
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