Dave Henson, a wounded ex-serviceman who is supported by Help for Heroes, finished seventh in the Final of the T42 200m at the IPC Athletics World Championships, Doha in a time of 27.08, on his senior international debut.
Dave posted a time of 26.61 in yesterday's Heat, just 0.17 off his Personal Best (PB), finishing behind the USA’s Regas Woods (25.85) and Russia’s Anton Prokhorov (25.88), which qualified him for the Final today. British team-mate and Paralympic gold medallist, Richard Whitehead won Gold in the Final in a time of 24.10, equalling his Word Record run in his Heat yesterday.
Dave said after the race: “I was having a lot of fun out there. It’s such a simple pleasure, I can’t help but have a smile on my face. I messed that up but good lessons learnt. It’s an awesome journey I’m chuffed to have done it and got here. I’ve got so much to learn, picking up tit bits of information from coaches and Richard (Whitehead), Dave (Weir) and Aled (Davies), it’s helped me so much this year.”
“This is so different to racing at an open meeting in the UK. Rich is awesome, he’s an awesome competitor, but he’s been doing this for a long time. I’ve got my own journey to go on and he’s a good guy to learn from. I can’t wait for next year.”
Former Army Captain, Dave Henson (from Fareham, Hampshire) who served with the Royal Engineers, lost both of his legs when he stepped on an IED in February 2011 when on patrol in Helmand, Afghanistan. He subsequently spent five weeks in the care of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, a very highly skilled military medical unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, before being sent to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Headley Court. Here, Dave was up and walking at half height just eight weeks after losing his legs, and was back to full height at 14 weeks.
It was during his rehabilitation that Dave found new passion for sport, first competing in a series of open water swims with his family to raise funds for military charities, before taking up Sitting Volleyball.
In 2012 he learned to ski, returned to work assisting other injured servicemen and women and was part of a UK exhibition team that competed in the Warrior Games, an inter-services sports competition for the US Military branches, supported and led by Help for Heroes. Dave returned to the Warrior Games as the Captain of the British Armed Forces Team in May 2013, winning medals in the swimming pool, on the volleyball court and on the track. This first experience of track racing inspired him to take the sport further, pairing up with his sprint coach, Roger Keller, in October 2013.
In 2013 Dave started a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London, graduating with Merit in 2014. During his recent degree, Dave designed a joint recreation implant for use with through-knee amputees that can help amputees regain some of the function lost with the loss of the knee joint. He started his PhD on the same subject in April 2015.
At the same time, Dave continued with his athletics training and became involved behind the scenes of the Invictus Games – an international sports tournament championed by Prince Harry for injured servicemen and women from around the world, where he was the Captain of the British Armed Forces Team. Alongside a hugely successful British Team, Dave took home gold medals in Sitting Volleyball and in the 200m sprint on the track. Despite being new to the sport, Dave’s 2014 PB saw him comfortably into the world top ten.
Now, Dave is continuing his Athletics training with his coach Roger and as part of the British Athletics Parallel Success Academy, with the support of Help for Heroes’ Sports Recovery programme.
Jayne Kavanagh, Sports Recovery Performance Pathway Manager at Help for Heroes added: “We’re hugely proud of Dave and all he has achieved in such a short period of time, with a lot of determination. Sport provides huge benefits to someone on their road to recovery, helping to build confidence and a sense of purpose after a life-changing injury or illness. We’re very honoured to have supported Dave’s recovery and sporting journey and look forward to his future in athletics.”
The support provided to Dave forms part of the Help for Heroes’ partnership with the British Paralympic Association & British Athletics to introduce military personnel to Paralympic Sport.
The IPC international athletics event is the last before the Paralympic Games in Rio next year, it will see around 1,400 athletes from 100 countries compete across 214 events.
Next time this global athletics event will take place the world will be coming to London at the World Athletics Championships London 2017.
For further information, visit the IPC website.