Bourne archer is right on target at Invictus Games

RAF Sqn Ldr (Retd) Carl Harding, from Bourne, with the gold medal he won in the Invictus Games 2014. Photo: MSMP180914-005aw EMN-140918-115656001
RAF Sqn Ldr (Retd) Carl Harding, from Bourne, with the gold medal he won in the Invictus Games 2014. Photo: MSMP180914-005aw EMN-140918-115656001

A former airman who was paralysed in a motorbike accident has won gold at an event for injured armed forces personnel.

Carl Harding, 50, from Bourne, was part of the Great Britain team that won the final mixed team compound open archery match against the US at the Invictus Games on Friday.

Carl Harding competes in the Invictus Games. EMN-140918-165408001

Carl Harding competes in the Invictus Games. EMN-140918-165408001

Carl was a Squadron Leader in the RAF and was formerly based at RAF Wittering. He was instructing at RAF College Cranwell when he was injured. The motorbike he was riding collided with a lorry, leaving him paralysed from the waist down.

But after a long recovery and just over a year in hospital, Carl moved to Bourne and began to rebuild his life. He took up archery just three years ago and on Friday won a gold medal in front of a national television audience.

Carl, who works as a reverse engineer at Pro Machine Tools in Barnack, said: “It was fantastic. Hearing everyone’s different stories - there were people who were newly injured or had been injured longer than I had.

“It was great to see their determination to be successful.”

Carl was not expecting to make it to the final rounds of the competition, let alone win a gold medal.

The set-up was unlike anything Carl had taken part in before.

He said: “It was so nerve-racking. You go to a normal tournament and you just blend in.

“But at the games the whole room was black except the lanes where we were going to shoot. You are really on the spot.”

“It felt amazing to win,” he said. It was really close all the way through. When we fired the last arrow we were just looking at the floor.

“There was a long pause and then a huge cheer. We weren’t sure if we had won or not.”

Carl celebrated with the rest of the British team in the closing ceremony on Sunday. He had extra reason to be cheerful as he turned 50 that day. And he even got a handshake from Prince Harry, who was instrumental in organising the games.

Carl lives with his wife Kate and their two children, Sam and Harry. Harry, nine, suffers from cerebral palsy and is a pupil at the Willoughby School in Bourne.

Carl is also heavily involved with the school as vice chairman of the governors.

Headteacher Adam Booker said Carl was an “inspiration” after his win.