UK competitor Private Scott McNeice will finish the most tumultuous year of his life by competing in an extraordinary half dozen events at Invictus Games Sydney 2018 less than 12 months after his leg was amputated.
The Health Care Assistant in the Royal Army Nursing Corps – who treated two members of Team UK before himself being injured – will participate in archery, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair racing and wheelchair rugby, as well as cycling at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, one of the showpiece free events which takes place on Saturday 21 October.
“They’re all new experiences for me, except for archery. I was an archer pre-injury. But obviously things have changed a bit,” the 33-year-old said.
“I only lost my leg in November 2017 so I’m pretty new to all of this. Everything’s pretty much different for me these days.”
McNeice suffered a service-related knee injury and attempted corrective surgery “went horrifically wrong”, he said.
“Throughout 2017 I had 12 operations and I’ve had about 15 in total. 2017 was a year of hell,” McNeice said.
“But, one week before my amputation, I was watching the Toronto Invictus Games and it was a key point for me.
“I knew the leg was coming off, it was planned, and the Invictus Games gave me a goal to go for. Me and the missus sat down and talked about which sports to go for.”
At a trial day in Nottingham, two weeks after the operation to remove his left leg from above the knee, McNeice trialed for seven sports and was selected for six.
“I was sitting in a rugby chair, a basketball chair, my leg was all bandaged up and it was probably was a little bit too soon after the operation,” he said. “But I just thought there was no point holding back.”
Not holding back has been McNeice’s mantra during 2018. He had been in terrible pain for a long time before his leg was amputated. While, he says, the relief was huge after the big operation – he even carved himself a pirate’s wooden leg – he still struggles with pain and associated issues and is working hard to adjust to life in his new predicament.
“At the very start I had plenty of people saying to me ‘You’re not going to be able to do this or that’. People told me it was too soon,” he said.
“But I just thought ‘No, I’m not having that’. There’s no point sitting there and thinking about how bad everything is or there’s no way forward. You’ve got to crack on. Being part of the Team has given me a lot more drive, I’ve gained a new family and it’s definitely pushed me, given me a goal to go for.”
Cycling is one of the showpiece FREE events of Invictus Games Sydney 2018 on Sunday 21 October. If you’re in the area, look out to Farm Cove, near the Sydney Opera House, to catch the Games’ sailing regatta.
David Sygall Invictus Games Sydney 2018