Sport has played a big role in my life and I wouldn't be here if it was not for sport. Being part of the Invictus family is amazing and enables me to help and inspire others. It is a great stepping stone for my career as an athlete to process onto the GB team.
Ross Austen was a former corporal from the 24 Commando Engineer Regiment. He was serving with the Royal Engineers on tour of Afghanistan in 2008, Powerlifter Ross Austen was out on a foot patrol when he came under attack. Setting a charge to blow into a compound, the enemy’s fire forced him to pull back. This resulted in him triggering an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). The IED severely damaged both of Ross' legs he underwent 10 emergency operations before being flown home.
In 2009 he was taken to the Headley Court rehabilitation centre to participate in a special "Battle Back" programme. He spent over three years in rehab and after his legs and knee were shattered by the IED device, Ross had to have a further 32 operations. He also sustained nerve damage and said there had been times when he had wondered if “it would have been better off if I had died" on the battlefield.
Eventually, in March 2010, Ross decided to have his left leg amputated above the knee because of the constant pain he endured.
At the time, he said: "I want closure to this whole thing and to be able to get on with my life. I'll probably be better off with a prosthetic leg than trying to keep my leg that's badly damaged.”
He also revealed he had battled depressed and feelings of anger, but had got through the dark times with the constant support of his family.
Despite his injuries, Ross went on to complete a marathon in Washington DC, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for military charities including Help for Heroes. He found his way onto the Help for Heroes sports recovery programme and competed at the 2016 Invictus Games before turning his attention fulltime to Para-Powerlifting, a sport in which he one day hopes to achieve his ultimate aim of representing his country at the Paralympic Games. He has already achieved Gold at the British Championships and is very motivated to take the next step.
He said: “Sport has played a big role in my life and I wouldn't be here if it was not for sport. Being part of the Invictus family is amazing and enables me to help and inspire others. It is a great stepping stone for my career as an athlete to process onto the GB team.”
Ross is currently taking part in the new Channel 4 reality TV show, The Bridge. Ross is part of a team of 12 strangers trying to build a bridge across a lake to an island to win a £100,000 part. Good luck, Ross.