Brave former soldier Micky Yule is a true inspiration after becoming a gold medal-winning athlete following the loss of both his legs in a bomb blast.
After joining the Army at 17, the Scotsman served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo before suffering life-changing injuries on his second tour of Afghanistan in 2010.
A staff sergeant in the Royal Engineers, he had the dangerous role of demolitions expert in the war-torn country. “I had to locate the IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that were blowing up so many of the lads,” says Micky.
However, just as Micky, now 41, was coming towards the end of a patrol, he stepped on a pressure-activated device hidden in the ground.
“I knew straight away that I’d stepped on an IED,” recalls the dad-of-two.
“I daren’t look down as I had a pretty good idea that at least one of my legs was gone. When I did look, I could see that both of them were in a terrible condition.”
Micky was taken by helicopter to Camp Bastion, where doctors amputated his right leg and worked on his other extensive injuries. “I’d pretty much broken every bone in my body,” Micky explains.
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The next day he was flown back to Britain with five other British soldiers who’d also been injured in IED explosions on the same day.
He spent a week in a coma while surgeons battled to save his life. Over the next few years Micky had around 50 operations, including skin grafts and the amputation of his left leg.
Learning to walk with his new prosthetic legs was a challenge: “I did a lot of tough courses as a soldier, but the toughest by far was the Army’s Double Amputee Rehab Group course,” he says.
“I also had to learn to walk all over again after each big bout of surgery. It was draining.”
Micky had previously been in the Army weightlifting team, and one of the things that now helped him cope was powerlifting. Powerlifting focuses on three main barbell lifts: the bench press, squat, and deadlift, while weightlifting only involves two: the snatch or clean and jerk.
“Initially it helped more mentally than physically,” says Micky. “The gym was where I could free my mind of all the mental torture I was going through at that time.”
Micky trained so hard that after his discharge from the Army, he was selected for the British Paralympic team, where he was able to access National Lottery funding to help cover training costs.
After winning gold at the 2015 European Championships and 2014 and 2016 Invictus Games, Micky was part of Team GB at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, securing a top six finish.
“I never imagined, after my injuries, that I’d get to represent my country at the Paralympics,” says Micky. “I could never have achieved all that I’ve done without the National Lottery funding.”
Micky is just one beneficiary of the £30million* you raise for good causes every week by playing The National Lottery.
This year he was due to compete at the Tokyo Paralympics, but they have been postponed until 2021 due to coronavirus.
In the meantime he’s training hard. “It gives me a real lift to know that people draw inspiration from what I’ve achieved,” he says. “It’s made me even more determined to bring back a medal from Tokyo.”