Presenting the Invictus Games | A Q&A with Competitor & Presenter JJ Chalmers

Matt Palmer 18 October 2018

Here at Speakers Corner HQ, we are incredibly lucky in that every week we get the chance to meet amazing people with a story to tell. A few months back, one of those people was JJ Chalmers. It was our absolute pleasure to chat with him in the office and we thought you might be interested to hear about his journey too.

JJ is a former Royal Marine Commando who previously served on operations in Afghanistan where he was wounded by an IED in a blast that claimed the lives of two of his friends. JJ has an inspiring story of recovery, which led to a gold medal at the Invictus Games, living his life to the fullest.

With the Invictus Games running this month in Sydney, we gave JJ a call (who was literally about to jump on a plane out to Oz) to ask what the Games means to him, and how he stays motivated.

Hi JJ, when you came to our office and shared your story with us, we were inspired. And your unbelievable level of resilience meant that you were recruited by Prince Harry to help him promote the 2014 Invictus Games with a series of interviews. How important do you think sharing your own story is when it comes to helping others?

First of all, how much did sharing my story help me? I always encourage other people to do that. I understand that some people may not want to share their stories but, for me, it allowed me to say things out loud that I’d never fully admitted to myself let alone an audience of strangers. It was an incredibly powerful process and we see a lot of Invictus Games competitors who struggle with mental health issues and are locking it up inside themselves. I’m not saying they necessarily need to ask for help – that’s a big step – but having a chat with someone, sitting down with an old friend and having a cup of coffee. What you might find is that just saying it out loud will help you. Humans in general seem pretty bad at this, but the military is particularly bad because we’ve been programmed to just crack on and say that everything is alright – that plays a huge part in this.

Have you got your eye on being involved in the 2020 Paralympics coverage?

I’ve got my eye, not only on the Paralympics, but on the Olympics too. My ambitions within television and radio is to be one of those few individuals who get to work on both competitions! I’m very lucky that whilst I’m considered a disabled talent working on things like the Paralympics and the Invictus Games, the bulk of my work including the last five competitions I’ve been involved with, have been in able-bodied sport. So, I would love for people to be able to turn on the TV and think “there’s JJ, the sports presenter”. Having said this, when it comes to the Paralympics and the Invictus Games, not only do I have a vested interest but also a level of expertise in these competitions and can understand the struggles that the athletes have to go through.

JJ Chalmers with Prince Harry promoting the Invictus Games.

You’re an incredible example of someone who has taken nothing for granted and jumped at opportunities available. How do you maintain your self-motivation?

I continue to challenge myself. Having been lucky enough to travel to the Rio 2016 Paralympics, going out to Tokyo in 2020 for the Paralympics, in many ways, wouldn’t satisfy me. The challenge for me is to work on the Olympics as well. I’m always looking to challenge and improve myself. I’m never really standing still.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I’m extremely lucky that I get to work in TV and radio, not only across sport but also things like The One Show and Trooping of the Colour – I love the challenge of always trying to add more strings to my bow. But if I had to choose the one thing that I enjoy the most about all of those things, it would be the opportunity to interact with incredible people. Whether that is part of The One Show meeting incredible people who work for the emergency services or for a charity, or meeting athletes who are in that moment of elation having just won a medal. I get to be in that privileged position of being there just as it’s happening. The Invictus Games is the perfect example – for the most part, people are amid having the most incredible experience and I get to be part of their journey.

If you could give one motivational or inspirational comment to our audience out there, what would it be?

I know that there are multiple facets that have made me who I am and that motivate me. But reflecting on my experience at the Invictus Games which was a crucial point in my life, my advice would be: put yourself out there, try things and don’t be afraid of failure. Of course, you hope you don’t fail and try your best to pull it off, but it’s all about taking that first step.

Thanks so much for speaking with us JJ, enjoy Sydney!

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