Tavistock’s Sally Renard has won four medals - including a gold - at this year’s Invictus Games in the Hague, The Netherlands.
Swimming Captain Sally won gold in the women’s 1500m athletics, silver in the 50 metre breastroke and bronzes in the 400m athletics and indoor rowing event (a four minute timed row in which she clocked up the third highest distance of all competitors in the event)
After landing back in Britain, Sally told the Times: ‘It’s quite a surreal feeling but easily the most amazing event that I’ve ever taken part in — to even be considered for the Games is a feat in itself. It’s been a fantastic experience for my family too to come with me and witness this international event which hosts countries from all over the world.’
Sally was accompanied by her family to the Netherlands, including her two daughters Daisy (eight) and Maya (five), who were cheering her on loudly in the stands. Sally said: ‘My children keep saying how proud they are of me and how they want to be like Mummy. I didn’t enter the Games looking for medals, all I set out to do was to compete and do my best. To hear my children say this about me and this achievement is like no other feeling in the world. I know this will allow them to gain confidence and believe in themselves from watching me and being a part of my journey.’
Sally’s Invictus Games journey started over three years ago when her close friend Jenny Collins, who competed in the Sydney Games, recommended she get involved whilst they were doing the school run one day. Jenny urged Sally to enter, saying: ‘You’ve got to do it, you’ve got to apply for it!’ Sally credits this encouragement as her impetus to enter.
The initial team announcement was made in October 2019 after Sally qualified at the Sheffield trials but the Games were then cancelled twice and delayed for over two years due to ongoing covid-related restrictions. Travelling to Holland to compete was contingent on testing negative before flying, meaning there was no guarantee Sally or any other team members could even participate.
Sally was born and raised in Tavistock but has moved around from her early 20s since joining the forces and meeting her husband. She currently resides in Hampshire but still maintains strong links with her family in Tavistock - the town she still always considers home.
Sally, a former RAF corporal, suffered an injury whilst serving in Afghanistan. Following hip operations and the loss of her father, the Games helped to re-secure her motivation and positivity along with the confidence to start teaching swimming again. Sally was a former RAF triathlete; it was a natural progression to compete in the swimming and running events.
Next year, instead of competing again, Sally wishes to be involved from the other side of the competition. Sally said: ‘My aim next year is to get involved with coaching. I really want to give something back as I’ve been given so much through being coached these last two years. I’d really like others to experience what I have.
‘I relish the opportunity to help others and I believe this is the area I can focus on to help my recovery. I want to be able to help others who are experiencing the scenarios that I have faced. I’m witnessing at first hand the benefits that sport, and teamwork, can have on my personal recovery journey. Now’s the time to go onto the next chapter and help others in the Royal British Legion.’
The Invictus Games are an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, both serving and veterans, founded by HRH Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex in 2014. The word invictus is synonymous with unconquered and was chosen as an embodiment of the fighting spirit of the wounded, injured and sick service personnel and what they can achieve, post injury.
At the Games, 2022 being the fifth year, 59 competitors formed the United Kingdom Team which included 17 RAF serving and veteran personnel; five of which were the UK team captain, vice captains, archery team captain and swimming captain (Sally).
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