Army veteran who survived parachute fall battles for glory in sporting challenge
An Wearside Army veteran who fell 600ft when a parachute training exercise went wrong is representing his country once again in a host of sporting challenges.
James Holborn discovered the Warrior Games after applying to take part in the Invictus Games and is now in New York to take part in a series of contests.
The 35-year-old from Ford Estate was medically discharged from the Army in 2005 after his career in the services was brought to an end after he shattered his ankle during the practice operation three years earlier as he prepared to go out to Iraq.
The private was still deployed to the country a year aafter being hurt as he served with the parachute regiment and Royal Logistical Corps, but dealing with the aftermath of the injuries and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) put a stop to any future with the service.
His sporting life has now given him a new focus, with Help for Heroes and Combat Stress among the organisations to help him find his passion for competition.
He is in the US to take part in the archery, rifle shooting, 100m and 200m track races, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball and cycling.
The games is organised by the United States Department of Defense.
James, who lives with partner Jennifer Hall, 31, and sons Callan Holborn, 11, and Jude Holborn, six, said: “I was told that I was lucky to survive the fall.
“Since I left the Army in 2005, I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD and it’s hit me pretty hard, I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me.
“I was feeling really down, but then I got in touch with Help for Heroes about two years ago and also got some help from Combat Stress and heard about the Invictus Games and went for trials and that’s how I heard about the Warrior Games.
“It’s amazing to be taking part, it’s life changing.
“You’re around other veterans and you go through it together as you’re selected.
“If there’s anyone out there who is struggling, just ask for help. That’s the hardest thing, but there is help out there.
“My partner and the boys have been a massive help. They’ll be shouting along to help me.”
James’s family and friends, along with other supporters, have been able to follow his progress through online coverage.
He is one of the 39-strong team members who flew out from the UK.
The games features eight sporting events with approximately 250 athletes representing teams from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and the British Armed Forces.
Organisers say sports and athletic reconditioning activities play a role in the recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration of service members and “celebrate the triumphs, personal courage and inspirational attitude of our wounded, ill and injured service members.”