A former British Army Soldier who was blinded whilst serving is preparing to compete against elite archers at the world’s largest sporting event for blind and partially sighted athletes.
British Blind Sport Archer Clive Jones, from Shropshire, is gearing up to compete at the 2023 IBSA World Games in Birmingham – 21 years after he was blinded in an unprovoked assault which left him in a coma for six days with various facial injuries.
After waking up from his coma totally blind, the 48-year-old used sport to aid his rehabilitation at St Dunstan’s, a blind veteran’s charity which is now known as Blind Veterans UK – which is where he fell in love with archery.
Clive joined British Blind Sport’s Archery Section and eventually represented Great Britain last year, where he has since shot at two Championships, and also shot an international personal best for GB at the European Para-Championships in Rome.
And he is aiming to improve further when he steps out on home soil at the 2023 IBSA World Games in Birmingham, which takes place in the UK for the first time between 18-27 August.
Reflecting on the path that has led him to becoming a Great Britain blind archer, Clive said: “When I woke from my coma I was like a scared child. I couldn’t tie my shoelaces or even make a cup of tea. I couldn’t do anything.
“My main worry was the financial security of my family, because I was blind and I knew my career as a soldier was over.
“Arriving at Blind Veterans UK was the best thing that could have happened to me, as that’s where I started to accept, adapt and live like a blind man.
“They taught me how to live again. I can do most things now as I have the confidence and equipment to live independently thanks to them – and that’s where I also took up archery.
“There were so many sports I had tried but none were as therapeutic as archery. I suffer with PTSD as well, and the relaxing feeling I get when I am shooting is phenomenal.
“Do I hate or blame the person responsible for what happened to me? No. What happened to me has opened so many doors.
“I have raised thousands of pounds for a variety of charities and I’m also an active freemason. My archery is great, I love that it’s enabled me to meet a wonderful circle of friends and it’s made me and my family stronger.
“I also got to meet the now Prince of Wales back in 2010 and shot a few arrows with him. He was very kind, supportive and was extremely interested in the archery and how a blind person shoots.”
As summer approaches, Clive is hoping the 2023 IBSA World Games – which RNIB is the lead sponsor of – will not only see him setting a new personal shooting best, but will help to inspire blind and partially sighted people to take up sport and exercise.
He added: “For so many years I had dreamt of being able to represent GB and it finally happened last year – around 20 years on from when I first had a go at archery.
“I now train for at least two hours a week and do a lot of visualisation work with my coach and spotter and that hard work is now paying off for me.
“My advice to other blind and partially sighted people is to give sport a go. British Blind Sport put on a lot of days where people can have a go at different sports – and they are a great place to start.
“You’re never going to know if you enjoy something until you give it a go. I had to break out of my own comfort zone to give archery a go and I’m so grateful that I did.”