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1 RGR Soldier Lance Cpl Netra Rana Gets Silver Medal at Invictus Games in USA

Orlando : Lance Cpl Netra Rana of 1RGR has been starring for the UK team at this year's Invictus Games in Orlando, the international sports competition for wounded, injured and sick service personnel that was opened by HRH Prince Harry and First Lady Michelle Obama on Sunday.The soldier, 32, who's home town is Khairenitar, Tanahun in central Nepal, is married with two children. A keen volleyball player, he joined the Gurkhas in January 2002 and undertook operational tours in Bosnia and Kosovo as well as training in Kenya and Canada before the battalion deployed to Afghanistan from Brunei on Op HERRICK 7 in 2007. He was injured in 2008, when his WMIK was blown up by a roadside IED. His left leg had to be amputated below the knee, his right leg suffered multiple fractures as well as tissue damage and his back was so badly dislocated that he subsequently underwent spinal fusion. 

There followed six weeks of surgery at Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham and over 12 months of rehabilitation at Headley Court. “Headley Court was fantastic,” he says, “and my prosthetic leg is fine, although it still took me a couple of months to get used to walking with it as my right leg, my ‘good’ leg, was so injured.”Having seen photos of sitting volleyball whilst attending the Battleback rehabilitation programme, he gave it a go and soon proved to be a natural. In 2010 he competed with the Battleback team at the Endeavour Games in Oklahoma, playing in defence as a libero, and helped his team to a gold medal - the first of his career. Talent-spotted by the manager of the GB team, he played for Britain in the 2011 European Championships and was nominated best individual defensive player in the tournament.

A place in Team GB at the 2012 London Paralympic Games followed, with Rana and his teammates reaching the quarter finals.Rana is a firm believer in the power of sport to help people recover from injuries like his. “Activities keep you motivated and help improve morale,” he said from the UK Team’s Invictus Games base in Florida. “And psychologically it's great to meet up with the other teams. You meet different people with different injuries and you can share your feelings and experiences with each other.”

Having won gold with the sitting volleyball team at the inaugural Invictus Games in London in 2014, LCpl Rana travelled to Orlando for this year’s Games and helped the UK to a hard-won silver medal. The team won an epic semi-final, coming from behind in the third and final match to beat the powerful side from Georgia 15 – 8. A video of the winning shot, posted on the British Army Facebook page, immediately went viral and was viewed over 130,000 times in its first two days!

This set up the UK Team for a showdown against the hosts, the USA, in a repeat of the London 2014 final. In front of a huge crowd at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, the UK team was eventually overcome in the final game, losing by two games to one.“We were beaten by a better side,” said Rana after the match. “The other teams are improving all the time and we have to make sure we keep improving as well.” Does he think the UK can regain their gold medal at the next Invictus Games in Toronto next year. “Yes, if we train hard.” He pauses and bursts out laughing. “But to be honest, I'd settle for bronze as long as we beat the Americans!”

Like many wounded, injured or sick personnel, Lance Cpl Netra Rana hopes the Invictus Games will inspire the millions who have been following it on TV. “Invictus means undefeated. I hope we will inspire others to realise that nothing is impossible – you can do it!”
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