After joining the British Army at 16 years old and serving across multiple operational tours throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Richard Waldrom will once again pull on the uniform of his country.
The 47-year-old Gloucestershire resident has been selected as part of Team UK at the Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023 running from September 9-16.
Richard will compete in the cycling competition riding a Handsling A1R0evo carbon road bike. He will be up against athletes from 22 other countries in time trial and criterium races.
Founded by Prince Harry, the Invictus Games supports the recovery and rehabilitation of participating servicemen and women. One of its key aims is to support veterans whose service has affected their mental and physical wellbeing.
For former gunner Richard, the road to the Games has been an arduous one.
"In 2018, my life took an unexpected turn when I began experiencing panic and anxiety attacks," he said. "Little did I know that these episodes would be the first indicators of a condition that would change my life forever: complex post-traumatic stress disorder. I was left with debilitating anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Since my diagnosis in 2019, my battle with complex PTSD has been arduous. The symptoms manifested in a myriad of ways, causing severe disruptions in my daily life."
Richard became increasingly isolated from friends, family and fellow veterans, constantly fighting suicidal thoughts. The Invictus Games was his path to salvation.
"When I first heard about the Invictus Games, I felt a mix of admiration and doubt," he said. "Admiration for the incredible individuals who participated, but doubt about my own worthiness to be part of such a remarkable community. Despite my initial reluctance, I took the plunge and found myself surrounded by others who shared similar experiences. It was there, among fellow veterans and service members, that I discovered a sense of camaraderie and understanding that I had been longing for."
He added: "Being selected for the Invictus Games and having the opportunity to represent my country and fellow veterans fills me with an overwhelming sense of pride. The chance to pull on the uniform of my country once again and stand beside some of the most inspirational and courageous people I have ever met is a humbling experience."
We were delighted to welcome Richard to the workshop to collect his A1R0evo. He was joined by Greg Clark, Managing Director of Mildef, a tactical IT company that is providing Richard with sponsorship.
Richard opted for a Cobalt Blue frame fitted with Shimano Ultegra Di2 12-speed groupset and the option of multiple Parcours carbon wheelsets. The cycling competition of the Games perfectly fits the strengths of the A1R0evo. It is aero and stiff for the time trial and well-handling and quick to accelerate for the criterium.
"The A1R0evo has been a revelation, its responsiveness in training races, the acceleration and comfort have been truly impressive," he said. "The bike has been turning a lot of heads out on the track - she's an absolute beauty, a rocket, and it's a genuine privilege to be able to ride and showcase a British brand at the Invictus Games and beyond."
Look out for updates on Richard's progress by following his Instagram account @richwaldrom or @invictusgames2023