Joe Townsend Invictus Games London 2014

Commonwealth Games: The UK Forces Athletes Who'll Be Bringing Home Medals

After the 2018 Commonwealth Games drew to a close in Australia, Forces Network has taken a look at the forces athletes who'll be bringing...

Joe Townsend Invictus Games London 2014

After the 2018 Commonwealth Games drew to a close in Australia, Forces Network has taken a look at the forces athletes who'll be bringing medals back to Britain.

14 serving athletes or veterans went for glory on the Gold Coast, with all four of the home nations represented.

Joe Townsend - Para Triathlon: Gold



Former Royal Marine Joe Townsend (pictured top competing in the 2014 Invictus Games in London) helped Team England secure a golden double in the first ever Commonwealth Games para-triathlon event. 

The veteran, who lost both legs when he stood on an IED in Afghanistan in 2008, took top honours alongside Jade Jones in the women's competition.

Having fallen behind the early leader Nic Beverage in the water, Townsend courageously caught his Australian counterpart, who had led for the majority of the early stages, at the start of the second transition and from then on he left everyone else in his wake.

The 30-year-old from Eastbourne said:

"It was the perfect day. Everything I planned I did so I am really happy! I kept the gaps well in the swim and when I knew that worked, I knew the race was mine."

"Swimming was always going to be my weakest discipline and I knew that I was strong in the cycling so I just needed to keep my cool. As soon as I was into the second triathlon in the lead I knew I was on target."

"If you look at the quality in the field, there's world champions and top athletes so you can't take away the intensity in a top venue, so yes, I'm really happy."

Townsend, a four-time Invictus Games champion, has previously finished sixth in the Rio 2016 Summer Paralympics and third in last year's ITU World Triathlon Series in Rotterdam.

Sam Gowin - 10m Rapid Fire Pistol: Bronze



British Army shooter Sam Gowin won bronze in the 10-metre rapid fire pistol event, despite only starting the discipline a year ago.

The Royal Artillery sergeant performed phenomenally to secure a third-place medal for Team England on Australia's Gold Coast.

Speaking after securing his medal, Sgt Gowin is quoted by British Shooting's website as saying:

"It feels great. It's such a great way to end such a long period of training."

"The plan now is to just keep training. What I will be doing now is focussing on a new training programme which is still rapid fire, but incorporating the different types of pressures that I've learnt at the Gold Coast."

Liam Sanford - Hockey: Bronze



RAF and UK Armed Forces Sportsman of the Year Liam Sanford was part of a Team England hockey side which won bronze in Australia.

The English men and women both took third place with wins over India.


Sam Ward scored twice for the men's team as they notched a close 2-1 win over India, while the women scored a more comfortable 6-0 victory over their opponents, grabbing England's 100th medal at the Games.

It maintained the nation's run of winning a hockey medal at every Games since it was introduced in 1998.

Micky Yule - Powerlifting: Special Mention



Forces veteran Micky Yule merits a special mention after just missing out on a medal for a second successive Commonwealth Games, having finished fourth in Australia.

The result in the men's heavyweight powerlifting final on the Gold Coast is the second time the Scot has finished just outside the medals, recording the same result at the Glasgow Games in 2014.

The lifter lost both legs serving in Afghanistan in 2010 while serving with the Royal Engineers, and in the build-up to the Gold Coast Games underwent revolutionary surgery to implant him a new form of titanium prosthetic, in a process known osseointegration.

Following his medical discharge from the Army, he was selected for Team Scotland to compete in powerlifting at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The veteran has also previously competed at the Rio Paralympics and won gold at the 2016 Invictus Games.

Prior to flying out to Australia, he said his next focus would be the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

The Royal Navy's Petty Officer Sean Gaffney was unable to medal with his three lifts in the same competition, while former Army corporal Nerys Pearce (below at the 2015 Warrior Games), a winner of 10 Invictus Games medals, could not do so in her event either.

Retired British Army Corporal Nerys Pearce - Warrior Games 2015

Also in action were Army boxing star Alanna Nihell, who had the honour of being the Northern Ireland women's team captain, the Army's Mike Bamsey and Stuart Hill, representing Wales and Northern Ireland in the target rifle competition and ex-RAF pilot David Calvert in the same contest.

Army Captain Gemma Rowland and RAF Senior Aircraftwoman Sian Williams wore the red of Wales on the rugby sevens pitch while Joe Nayacavou, from 2 SCOTS, added some Fijian flair to the Scotland men's side and Fern Davies played in defence for the Welsh netball team.

Despite their best efforts, these forces athletes were unable to finish in the medal places either, however.

But they'll now go back to their families and military units having represented their nations with pride.

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