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Ian Bishop 'honoured to line up for his country'
For a veteran of three Simpson Cups, double amputee Ian Bishop still feels the buzz of competing in the Simpson Cup more than ever, and his compelling story is a true demonstration of human strength.

Looking at a man who's cruelly had to have both legs amputated above the knee, the obvious response is to feel a deep sense of sorrow. Yet within two minutes of getting to know Ian Bishop, such emotion quickly gives way to overwhelming admiration.
Personifying the British 'Get on with it' way, he recounts the harrowing story behind his horrific injury in suitably understated terms.

"I was injured in Afghanistan in an Op Herrick in the Helmand Province in 2009," he explains in earnest. "We were coming towards the end of the tour, and we were out on a patrol. It was at a base called Fob Gibraltar. There were lots of explosive devices around the area, and I was just unlucky enough to step on one."

"It took both my legs straight off, and I was flown back to Birmingham within 24 hours. I was conscious when I was hit, but then I was obviously heavily sedated for the flight back. I then got back to hospital, and that was me - that was the start of my recovery."

Having been deployed to Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone (twice), and a part of the 2003 Iraq invasion, Bishop had done his share of service abroad. The injury itself though occurred during his third and final six-month stint in Afghanistan, and, gallingly, happened with just three weeks of the trip remaining.

Yet, in typical fashion, the words 'if only' and 'what if' don't feature as part of Bishop's vocabulary.

"It was funny - I just got used to it, and accepted what had happened very early," he reflects. "The main thing was to get back walking again, and getting used to the prosthetic legs. To start walking took about four or five months. After a year I could walk pretty much unaided. But I'm still learning now - my rehabilitation is ongoing. It's been over six years, and I'm still learning new things - what I can and can't do each day."

A massive part of his rehabilitation has centred on golf, and the On Course Foundation has helped to map out a future the Southampton-born lad may otherwise not have been able to fulfil.

"I was at the Royal Marines Rehabilitation Centre down in Plymouth, and they came down for a visit in 2010. I met Ben and a couple of the other blokes who were there, and they encouraged me to try it out. I used to play golf when I was much younger, but gave up and literally hadn't hit a golf ball for about 16 years. I decided to give it a go, and went down to my first event, RAC Epsom, and I've just cracked on from there really.

"It goes beyond just playing though. I've worked as a National Liaison Officer for On Course until about 18 months ago. I loved working for them, it was great. I've now moved over to Malaga in Spain, where I'm involved in a few new interesting business ventures, but I still do a bit for OCF here and there.

"I'm also just loving my golf at the moment. I get to play about two or three times a week. The weather's guaranteed over there," he grins.

The move to Spain clearly hasn't affected his ability to deal with the elements though, as he strode off Royal Wimbledon's 18th green with a sub-80 round under his belt in an afternoon of persistent rain. Indeed, despite his debilitating disability, Bishop plays off a remarkable handicap of 8.

The 34-year old's incredible talent has seen him become a mainstay in the Simpson Cup ranks, and it comes as no surprise that he's been a part of all three events to date. His enthusiasm for the tournament is infectious, and he talks passionately about his joy at simply being a part of the occasion. Yet within that is a tangible competitive steel, and Bishop makes no bones about the fact that regaining the Cup for Team GB this year is the priority.

"All three Simpson Cups have been fantastic!" he beams. "It's played in such a good spirit, and it's great because we've won twice and the Americans have won once. They're obviously going to try and defend it, and we're very keen to try and win it back.

"It's such an honour to line up for your country, albeit that this is in a completely different sense to the Armed Forces. But you still don't want to be letting the team down! For us it's just nice to have that competitive spirit again. Even though it's a friendly, everybody really wants to win."