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Wheelchair rugby squad for Invictus games aim to better last year’s bronze medal

Team member Clive Smith said the close-knit group was aiming to “do the business” in Toronto next month.

Britain’s wheelchair rugby squad for this year’s Invictus Games have been put through their paces as they aim to better the bronze medal they won in Orlando in 2016.

Team member Clive Smith said the close-knit group was aiming to “do the business” in Toronto next month in the sport widely known as “murderball”.

The former ordnance disposal regiment lance corporal, from Walsall, lost both legs above the knee after being caught in a bomb blast while serving in Afghanistan in 2010.

On Saturday the 31-year-old was talking to the media after a training session at the Harry Mitchell Leisure Centre in Smethwick, West Midlands.

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(Matthew Cooper/PA)

He said: “So far we’ve got a lot done – a lot of tactical work, a lot of speed and power work, so we’re getting there.

“We train incredibly hard so we just hope to be in the best position we can be in in 49 days time.

“The guys have been training tirelessly for six months or so now and everyone is in the kind of mindset that we are going to go there and do the business.

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(Matthew Cooper/PA)

“You’ve got to go in with a calm confidence and hopefully just get in and smash it.”

Asked how much the forthcoming games mean to the 90 athletes competing in various sports on behalf of the UK, the veteran, who served with 33 Engineer Regiment, added: “For me it’s massive.

“I missed out last year through surgery and it’s just great to be back in with the team, back in with the lads and the banter and everything, and that kind of military of mindset. It’s fantastic to be back.”

Fellow wheelchair rugby squad member Steven Boulton, who was injured in a vehicle-borne IED blast in Afghanistan in 2012, said the team had an amazing camaraderie.

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(Matthew Cooper/PA)

The 26-year-old, from Birmingham, served with the Queen’s Royal Lancers as a lance corporal.

Of the squad’s training so far, he said: “It’s as tough as you make it. We are all ex-squaddies so we are used to all this hard work. I absolutely love it. I am confident we are going to get a better medal than bronze – so stand by.”

Wounded veterans and service personnel from 17 countries will compete in Toronto from September 23 to 30.

More than 300 hopefuls took part in trials in 11 sports for a place on the UK Team – with the selection process based on the benefit participation in the games will give an individual as part of their recovery, combined with performance and commitment to training.

A partnership comprising the Ministry of Defence, Help for Heroes, and The Royal British Legion has organised the British involvement in the games, supported by car-maker Jaguar Land Rover.

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