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Invictus Games Preview: "Invictus Games have changed my life."

2014, sees the inaugural Invictus Games seeing servicemen compete in a number of sports including wheelchair basketball at the Copper Box Arena.

In 16 days time, International sport returns to the site of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games in a tournament championed by Prince Harry.

Formerly in the Royal Navy, AJ Pingram has an interesting story of how he got involved in the games, despite having picked up a basketball to participate just once before.

Pingram grew up with the Royal Navy in his blood having had servicemen in his family and explains the story behind his participation in the games.

He said: "I haven't done any sport for years, until I went to a Cheshire Phoenix wheelchair basketball session, when I applied for tickets for the games, they asked me if I was ex-forces, I said yes, they asked if I was disabled, I said yes, they asked if I played disability sport and I said wheelchair basketball.

"Next thing I know I get an offer inviting me to the trials, I got through the first one and somehow i've managed to get myself on the squad.

"It's been crazy, I've been improving on a massive learning curve - I've lost two stone since I started playing."

So what does the Invictus Games mean to Pingram and what does it mean to play at the site of London 2012?

He continued: "I never thought I'd play competitive sport again and now I've got a better outlook on life.

It was only during the Paralympics that I realised that there were things out there for me to do.

"Every moment of it has been amazing, it's been a great journey."

So what about the games themselves; who are the biggest rivals and what do the team hope to achieve?

"Everything has been building up to the games, it's going to be daunting playing in front of thousands of people, the fact the crowd will be cheering for us will be like an extra player.

"We feel America will be our biggest challenge, we're putting the effort in and that's the only way to win.

"We're very confident, we've been working so hard our coach Scott Wallace is getting us to such a high level of skill and fitness.

"I've got a stubborn commitment to training, my wife and kids hardly see me nowadays because I'm always off travelling and training."

The Invictus Games start on 10th September, with Wheelchair Basketball taking place on the Saturday.

For more details visit: http://invictusgames.org/.

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