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Darren Young, from Gillingham, wins gold at Warrior Games in Chicago

A former RAF firefighter has returned home after winning gold at the Warrior Games.

Gillingham resident Darren Young was one of around 265 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans who took part in the Chicago event.

Teams included active-duty service members and veterans with upper-body, lower-body, and spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, visual impairment, illnesses, and post-traumatic stress.

Darren Young at the Warrior Games in Chicago
Darren Young at the Warrior Games in Chicago

The 47-year-old, who runs fire safety company 1st Aid Fire, competed in a variety of events and won a gold medal in the discus competition, and silver medals in the 100m, 200m sprint and the 50m backstroke.

He said: “In the 50m backstroke I was beaten by 0.18 seconds. The gold medallist and I spoke for 20 minutes after the race, wondering how we finished it, never mind getting first and second place.”

Mr Young served in the RAF for 16 years but was medically discharged with a bad shoulder and a degenerative spinal condition.

He said: “I had several days where it was not possible to train due to the pain, however, the staff within Team UK were great.

“My wife, Mel, is a strength and conditioning coach and gave me daily exercises.

“I owe a great deal of my success to her. Without her persistent nagging I would not have even entered my name or attempted these sports again.”

Now Darren is aiming to make it into the 2018 Invictus Games, which will be held in Sydney, Australia, and then eventually the Paralympics in 2020. He said: “Although Invictus is my main focus, I would do the Warrior Games again in a heartbeat. It was an awesome experience and a great way to encourage disabled people to try sports.

“Every veteran from all the services around the world needs to engage in this event and apply without thinking about it – it’s a must.”

If you are interested in applying for the Invictus games, visit the website or email ukinvictus@helpforheroes.org.uk

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