The British military has long had a connection with sports, helping to spread many around the world, such as cricket, football, tennis and hockey.
Even today sport plays a big part in the UK Armed Forces, with Inter-Service competitions and the Invictus Games. It is therefore unsurprising that many of the nation’s sports legends have also served.
These top athletes are all serving or former officers.
1. Heather Stanning OBE
Heather Stanning is a double Olympic champion, record holder and a Royal Artillery Major. In 2012 Stanning and her rowing partner Helen Glover took home the first ever Olympic medal for British women’s rowing, and then defended their title in the 2016 games.
2. Nick Beighton
Nick, a former Army Captain, took up rowing as part of his rehabilitation programme, after losing his legs during active service in Afghanistan. He joined the Great Britain rowing team and took part in the mixed Double Scull, narrowly missing a medal finish at the 2012 Paralympics. Beighton switched to paracanoe instead, and won bronze at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
3. Rory Underwood
Former England rugby star, Rory Underwood scored 49 tries for his country, making him the top leading try scorer. Rory spent 18 years in the RAF, being promoted to Flight Lieutenant in 1995 whilst playing for Leicester Tigers. Throughout his rugby career Underwood balanced his military career with rugby.
4. Joshua Lewsey MBE
Joining London Wasps rugby team in 1998, Lewsey spent more than 10 years playing, representing England for 10 seasons. He juggled his military and rugby careers for several years, before resigning from the Royal Artillery.
5. Richard Waygood MBE
Waygood joined the Army in 1979, commissioned in 2000 and retired as a Major in 2009. He held the prestigious role of Riding Master and choreographed the Household Cavalry Musical Ride. After leaving the military he was appointed Chef d’Equipe of the senior British dressage team, and is one of Britain’s most successful military event riders.
6. Tim Rodber
A former Captain in the Green Howards infantry, Tim began playing rugby for the Northampton Saints in 1988. He played for England for 8 years, helping them win the 1993 Rugby World Cup Sevens title. He remained in the Army throughout his rugby career, retiring from both rugby and the Armed Forces in 2001.
7. Jim Fox OBE
Former Army Captain Jim Fox is the only British pentathlete to have competed in four Olympic Games, winning gold in the 1976 games. Fox, who served in the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, was awarded the OBE for services to the modern pentathlon.
8. Pete Reed
Three-time Olympic gold medallist Pete Reed took up rowing while training as an officer on-board HMS Exeter. He is one of the Great Britain Rowing Team’s most decorated members, due to his World Championship and Olympic medals. Reed retired from rowing earlier this year.
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