Former Royal Marine and now military Paralympian, Joe Townsend, was injured in 2008 after standing on an Improvised Explosive Device. Joe lost both of his legs in the blast and after 14 hours in surgery at Camp Bastion, he was flown back to the UK where he spent five weeks in a critical care ward.
“Hospital was really degrading for me. You go from being a Royal Marines Commando to like a newborn child. I didn’t really dwell on it and just concentrated on small goals like today I’m going to drink from a cup.”
Gradually these goals have grown and while Joe has faced over 50 operations to date, he has also completed many endurance races including the Bolton Iron Man and the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii! In June 2012, Joe took on the world’s toughest cycling race, The Race Across America, cycling over 3,000 miles with seven other wounded servicemen fundraising for Help for Heroes.
Joe has been supported by Help for Heroes since he was first injured, enabling him to compete as an international athlete and his goal is to take part in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Joe says;
“I was injured literally just as Help for Heroes was kind of being set up and it was through their support I tried sport for the first time after injury. They started a little fire.
I discovered that once you’re in a piece of sports equipment you’re free and your disability becomes irrelevant. I can go out with any of my able-bodied friends on the bike and to be fair I can leave them for dust. Your disability isn’t impairing you at that point and it’s a good feeling.”
Joe has worked incredibly hard over the last three years, dedicating himself to his sport with his ambitions firmly set on Rio.
“To hear the news I’ve been selected is a huge sense of achievement as well as a huge sense of relief. It’s something I’ve put a huge amount of work into, something my family have worked to. Making the team and crossing that finish line will feel like reaching the pinnacle of a journey.”