It’s about me getting out of bed and having a reason to push myself and to enjoy and be proud of what I do.
Meet military Paralympian and injured ex-serviceman, Nick Beighton. Nick represented his country in rowing in the 2012 London Paralympics, coming fourth. He then went on to take bronze in Para-canoe, as part the Paralympics GB team, in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
A former Captain in the British Engineers of the British Army, Nick was injured in 2009 after stepping on an IED while serving in Afghanistan, which resulted in him losing both of his legs.
“I’ll never forget that split-second when it dawns on you that your life has just changed for ever. You just try to stay calm and stay alive.”
On returning to the UK, Nick was put in an induced coma, followed by the Intensive Care Unit, and then underwent 25 operations in a short period.
He quickly started setting himself challenges as part of his recovery such as sitting up in bed, feeding himself, washing himself and getting into a wheelchair. The ‘military mentality kicked in’ and he was constantly looking to his next goal, which quickly became sport focused.
“Sport was just a perfect fit in a lot of ways, and it allowed me to (a) try some new things that I’d never done before and (b) reconnect with the sports I used to love, like skiing and climbing.”
Nick was supported by Help for Heroes’ Sports Recovery programme during his rehabilitation where he transitioned his skills to rowing.
“Sport allowed me to try some new things that I’d never done before, and reconnect with the sports I used to love, like skiing and climbing.” - Nick Beighton
After being accepted onto the British Rowing programme, and just three years after being injured, he qualified for the London 2012 Paralympics in the mixed scull, narrowly missing out on a medal.
“Some of the key things that make you a good athlete also make you a good soldier, especially the ability to push on when things get tough. As a soldier you are proud to represent your country and I am proud to do so here as an athlete. You try to look forward and to focus on something positive. I will now reflect on what has happened here, on life and what is really precious to me, such as family.
“Sport has been a great way of getting my confidence back. It’s also payback for the support and sacrifice of my family. This is about having a reason to get out of bed and push myself, to say “I’m a British Paralympian” and proud of what I do.”
In 2013 he completed the Paris to London element of Help for Heroes’ Heroes Ride on a hand bike, and in 2014 decided to switch disciplines to paracanoe.
Nick made history as part of paracanoe’s Paralympic debut at the 2016 Rio games and won bronze in the men’s KL2 event. He continues to compete at national and international level.
Watch Nick’s inspiring ‘Road to Rio’ film, where he went on to win bronze!