The Liverpool battle veteran broke the 24-hour gym challenge that helped raise £ 18,000 for military charities, using the epic endurance program to inspire him into the Invictus Games.

Stephen Ashcroft, a former machine gun commander in the 2nd Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, earned three top 10 places in the International Sports Competition for Injured, Wounded and Sick Soldiers and Women – and will now compete in the National Fitness Games in September. .

Stephen, 39, Aigburth, who suffered a life-changing injury while serving in Afghanistan in 2010, says: “I think he played a big part in my training.

“When something is taken away from you without being chosen, you definitely want to go ahead, train more stubbornly than anything and prove to yourself that it cannot be taken away.

Stephen Ashcroft with his wife Lenita and daughter Mariella

“But for me, being the best version is also a challenge that I can be, not an option for those who are no longer here.”

Stephen, who has a father and is married to Lenata, aims to make it to the top 10 in the powerlifting and rowing event at the Invictus Games in April, and actually finished sixth, seventh and eighth.

“He blew me away,” says Stephen, who is studying for a PhD in plant genetics at Liverpool University. “I was humming – and I didn’t move easily.

“I finished sixth in powerlifting, seventh in the one-minute queue and eighth in the four-minute queue, and he was one of 90 competitors. I tried to stay cool, but I was too scared before the game.

“I had results, they exceeded my expectations.”

Stephen Ashcroft

Stephen will now be part of a four-man team competing in the National Fitness Games at SPEC’s Origin Gym where he trains.

In February of the same year, he – along with current and former soldiers and women, his friends and family and members of the gym – took part in the ‘Bring Luke Home’ challenge to cover 7 million meters using skis and bikes. And rowing machines. This was the distance between Kandahar Airfield and RAF Houghton, where Stephen was with senior aircraftman Luke Southgate, whose vehicle died in 2010 after being hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Kandahar.

They reached 7.4 million meters in just 22 hours and, after setting a target of £ 7,000, actually raised £ 18,000 for three military charities, Help for Heroes, RAF Benevolent Fund and Royal Air Force Charity, Centurion Fund.

Stephen Ashcroft

Stephen Ashcroft with his family who went to support him at the Invictus Games

Stephen suffered a Luke-like injury, an open fracture of his left leg, and about 10cm of his tibia was blown off, his back was broken, and his face was rearranged to keep his eyes in place and his cheeks repaired.

He has already undergone more than 20 operations and has undergone another surgery on his leg and another surgery on his left leg which will keep him in the frame for six months.

Stephen continues: “I learned of Luke’s death while I was still in critical condition, recovering from my own injuries. It is difficult to process such a loss while you are in that position, so for me, my memory of Luke remained in Kandahar.

“I came up with the idea of ​​’bringing Luke home’ when I applied for Invictus Games to keep his memory alive but it helped me in my recovery. It was my attempt to honor them and give them back in a small way, especially the help for the heroes and the RAF Benevolent Fund are for me. Also put a lot of points for me to rest.

Stephen Ashcroft

Stephen Ashcroft with Prince Harry at the Invictus Games

“Training for both challenges also changed my opinion about my own fitness and what I was capable of. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I can’t do in life, but it inspires me to push myself again and see what else I can achieve.

“That is why I am now focusing on fitness games. It motivates me to set a goal and move on; Focusing on one thing makes things better. “

Find out more about the National Fitness Games here and follow Stephen’s journey.