A former Royal Air Force sergeant, who suffered a neck injury causing excruciating pain and temporary paralysis of his left arm while he was serving in Afghanistan, is now a PE teacher and is competing as part of the UK Team at his second Invictus Games.
Bolton-born Michael Westwell served with 201 Squadron in Kinloss for many years and left the RAF in 2012 when the pain from his neck injury became too much to bear.
“It’s been quite a long road. Been supported really well by my friends and family to get me here.”
Below Cassidy Little shares what the atmosphere is like at the Invictus Games cycling event, there's even a glimpse of His Royal Highness Prince Harry.
Michael is competing in cycling, rowing, sitting volleyball plus athletics and has been joined in Toronto by his wife Samantha who is a paramedic for East Midlands Ambulance Service and daughter Holly who is only five months old and his BIGGEST fan.
Between 2007 and 2009, Michael was a SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Extraction) instructor at RAF St Mawgan, giving UK Armed Forces conduct after capture training, personnel recovery, survival in different environments.
“It prepares the guys really well for environments that they’re facing and best equips them with the skills in case the worst thing happens and something goes wrong.”
Michael now has a new career as a maths and physical education teacher thanks to a national programme for service leavers.
“I’ve just completed the fabulous Troops to Teachers (TtT) programme which is through Brighton University. It’s a two year on the job training.”
At the cycling finals, Forces Radio BFBS’ Hal Stewart was with Michael and his wife Samantha. Hal discovered that Samantha is also a successful cyclist being the first ladies indoor track champion.
“As a new cyclist to the track… the first season I managed to win the cup but yeah I’m very proud of that.”
Following the final days cycling, a podium place for Michael Westwell in the Men’s Road Cycling IRB3 Final was not to be but fellow Brits Flt Lt Nathan Jones took silver and Andrew White brought home the gold.