Kelly's events at Invictus Games are off to a strong start

22 October 2018 18:44

One event down, three to go... Here's how you can keep up with Kelly!

For the past year, Kelly has been working towards this point: October and the Invictus Games. She is settled in Down Under and has taken part in her first pair of challenges…

Kelly has worked hard on technique, core and muscle strength to compete once again in the Indoor Row events at the Invictus Games. She had a challenging time at last year’s Games in Toronto, where she struggled to see the screen to know when to start and how far she had to go to the finish line. In 2017, when pacing herself against both competitors and the clock, she felt at a disadvantage.

Now it’s 2018 and Kelly characteristically set out to compete with the best in her field. She rowed in a group where each of her competitors were blind or have low vision and with amputations or joint restrictions in the hands and lower legs.

Kelly uses the indoor row machine with trainer George looking on
Kelly uses the indoor row machine with trainer George looking on

First up today was the Four Minute Endurance Row. Kelly smashed out 977 metres, and finished in fourth place, just four metres off the bronze medal spot.

In her second event, the One Minute Sprint Row, Kelly again finished fourth with 276 metres. She narrowly missed out on the bronze, this time by only 2 metres.

“Kelly’s tenacity in training, and her determination to do the best she can in each of her events makes everyone at Blind Veterans UK so proud of her,” said Anika Backhouse, Regional Marcomms Executive.

“I have been privileged to join Kelly in her training sessions, and have met the coaching staff she has supporting and guiding her towards this end point. To achieve fourth place is phenomenal! We can’t wait to find out how she does in the rest of her events.”

A former soldier, Kelly strives to be the best she can be. Her extremely limited vision, coupled with the other physical impacts from the strokes she had at age 23, mean that she has had to work hard to overcome many obstacles. She uses video footage taken in her training sessions with running coach Mikail Huggins to help her understand what she is doing from a different perspective.

Left to right: Mikail Huggins, Kelly Ganfield, George Studd stand on the indoor running track
Left to right: Mikail Huggins, Kelly Ganfield, George Studd stand on the indoor running track

Blind Veterans UK assists Kelly by providing her with the coaching and guide running support of Mikail. This is part of the wider support Kelly has received from the charity, since leaving the Army.

“Blind Veterans UK is my family. It’s been there for me when the Army couldn’t,” said Kelly. “Blind Veterans UK has saved my life and made me a better person. It’s made my family life better; I know that the charity cares about my wife Sarah and my daughter Bethany, too. Nothing is too much trouble.”

Highlights of the Indoor Row will be on BBC One at 7:30pm tonight (Monday 22nd October). Kelly’s next events will be highlighted on Thursday and Friday evenings. All at Blind Veterans UK will be cheering Kelly on.

Kelly said: “The messages from home have been truly amazing and I feel so happy and proud to be part of this amazing event again.”