Spotlight on Peter Dunning, Invictus UK Wheelchair Rugby

Peter is one of the eight athletes selected to represent the UK at wheelchair rugby at this year’s Invictus Games in Sydney. After working in the hospitality trade for 4 years he became very bored with the job and wanted something to challenge him physically and mentally.

He says, ‘sub-consciously I felt like I heard more and more about the Royal Marines and so I thought “why not?” and next thing I know I’m signing on the dotted line and on the train down to Lympstone to start my 32 weeks of basic training. I finished training and was sent out to Afghanistan for my first tour of duty in March 2007 where I was till the October.’

He returned to Afghanistan the following March for a 3 month tour but on 25 May with just 12 days to go to the end of the tour the vehicle he was travelling in drove over an IED (Improvised Explosive Device).The driver was killed, another friend got badly burnt and broke his legs. Peter lost both of his legs, one through knee and one below knee, fractured his spine which is now fused, punctured his left lung, fractured his left collar bone and suffered burns to both arms and both legs. When in hospital he thought about getting into wheelchair rugby, but someone said that he wouldn’t be able to as he wasn’t injured enough to be classified so he thought little more about it.

In September 2017 he was on a course with Help for Heroes at Tedworth house and it was an introduction into new sports and one of them was wheelchair rugby, which GBWR was delivering as part of our programme.

Peter says, ’I sat in the chair, I moved it about, I bashed into other people, I loved it and wanted to take it further. I found a team close to where I live, RGC, and I went along to train with them guys, I knew I couldn’t play for them, but I wanted to get back into sports as sports has been my life. I finished the first training session breathless, but I had such a big smile on my face as I knew that this is what I wanted to do. Not long after this the Invictus games had just been on and they said that once the 2017 games had finished the applications for the 2018 games would be open, and I thought why the hell not, so I filled in the application form and sent it off. After attending some gruelling pre-trials training camps lead by Paul Jenkins the date of the trials came around fast. I had to wait 3 weeks after that to find out if I had been selected or not, but luckily the wait was worth it as I had been selected for the 2018 Invictus Games squad heading to Sydney to represent the country in wheelchair rugby and wheelchair racing’.