Invictus Games

Meet the former Royal Marine aiming for Invictus Games wheelchair rugby glory

After being medically discharged from the Royal Marines, Paul Gray was asking himself: "What am I going to do now?"

The answer to that was joining the Invictus programme and now he's aiming for a gold medal with the Team UK wheelchair rugby squad.

In 2014, the ex-Lance Corporal was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a form of arthritis in the lower spine. It led to him leaving the military.

"At first, you think 'oh it's fine, it's just another little niggle. I can get on with it', because that's the mentality you have as a Royal Marine," said Gray.

"Slowly, over time, you realise 'actually I can't do this. I can't put the bergen on anymore. I can't keep the pace I used to' and that's when it started to affect you mentally.

"When you're told you can no longer serve and you get that discharge paper, you think 'right, what am I going to do now?'

"You feel like you're lost in a maze and it takes time to figure out a route out.

"Luckily, the Invictus programme has helped me find that route out of the maze."

Gray's journey with Invictus has given him the camaraderie and atmosphere he previously enjoyed in the military.

He said: "That team cohesion, feeling part of the team, and the banter that flies about on court is just fantastic.

"It's very similar to being back in the military and I think that's why a lot of us choose the team sports."

Cover image: Paul Gray in action at the Invictus Games The Hague (Picture: Theo Cohen/Help for Heroes)