John was serving in the Adjutant General Corps when, in June 2014, he suffered a brain haemorrhage which left him paralysed from the neck down on his left-hand side. He continues to walk with a limp and lacks strength on his left side.
“The main impacts of my injury on my life were that I was a soldier and a runner, neither of which I can do anymore. I’ve had to change my lifestyle completely.
“Since mine is a purely physical injury, and I used to play a large amount of sport prior to becoming injured, sport these days represents a degree of continuity in my life that was largely taken away when I was injured. The ability to perform and compete with both able-bodied and other injured athletes not only allows me to remain fit and healthy, and gives me performance goals to aim for, but also allows me to remain in touch with a part of my life that was largely put behind me when I was injured.”
John started with the AFPST Nordic team in February 2016. Despite having spent time on alpine skis, he had never skied Nordic at that point, but the combination of being on snow in the mountains, and the feeling of freedom that he had previously enjoyed as an ultra-distance runner appealed to him immediately. He now trains four days in every five, often twice a day. He competed in the 2017 IPC Nordic World Cup in the Ukraine and his aim is to qualify and represent GB in the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games.
“Hopefully PiP is the starting point of my own Paralympic journey, which for me not only represents a worthy and high goal to aim for but also some personal vindication that despite my injury, I can still perform to the high standards that I used to be able to. It’s a huge privilege to be identified to take part on the PIP, and it has given me the additional motivation to make some massive changes in my life that will hopefully help in achieving a place in the 2022 Paralympics.
“I hope to see exactly how the Winter Paralympics works in order to allow me to prepare for my own Paralympic journey down the line. I think it will give me additional motivation to compete, as it will be much clearer how much the Games means to all of those involved once I have seen it for myself. It is an incredible opportunity to experience the Paralympics in a way that I won’t be able to when I’m competing, so massive looking forward to it.”