Military Paralympian Dave Henson joined the Army in 2008, serving with the Royal Engineers. In February 2011, he was deployed to Afghanistan and on a “normal day on operations” when he stood on an IED.
“The next thing I knew I was awake in Camp Bastion hospital in the evening after my lads had loaded me on the helicopter. And that was it – legless.”
Dave was in and out of Headley Court for about 18 months, and used swimming as a “vital part” of his recovery. As soon as his wounds were healed, he moved on to open water swimming with his family.
“Time is a big healer as anyone who has been through anything traumatic will know. It just takes time. Probably at 6 months in I had fully adjusted – not only to the physical side of the injury but to the mental side and the loss of career. That was probably the hardest adjustment to make.”
Dave competed in the 2012 and 2013 Warrior Games, a US adaptive sports competition for the Armed Forces who have been wounded, injured or sick, in his first proper interactions with Help for Heroes Sports Recovery. It was at the 2013 Games that he met his now coach Roger Keller.
Having tried a number of adaptive sports including cycling, volleyball and wheelchair basketball, Dave discovered a passion and skill for athletics.
“My goal for sports is to keep on doing it while I still enjoy it. There will probably come a time where my body starts to say ‘Dave, you’ve got to start taking it easy’. Certainly on the blades, because they are quite a big impact on your body. There’s a bit of a price to pay with running that quickly but at the minute my body is feeling alright and I’m still enjoying it so that’s my aim for sport – to go as far as I can, as fast as I can while I’m still smiling!”