Micky Yule’s race to be fit for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games would be enough to rattle even the most experienced of world class athletes, but the para-powerlifter has already overcome far greater challenges.
The 39-year-old broke his femur twice in 2017. Doctors said that such a break would usually have been the result of a serious car crash, but Yule’s leg had collapsed under him when he was standing up.
A further setback curtailed the Rio Paralympian's training in the build-up to the Games, and Yule conceded he would not know until he started increasing his weights training in Australia whether his leg would have healed sufficiently for him to compete.
That level of doubt would send many athletes in a state of frenzy, but as he prepares to compete - just 14 weeks after surgery - those concerns will seem minor to a man like Micky.
In 2010, he lost both his legs from the knee down when he stepped on an improvised explosive device, while serving with the Royal Engineers in Afghanistan.
Since then, he has competed at the Paralympics and tasted success at European and world level, winning gold at the 2016 Invictus Games.
Yule feared his Gold Coast dream was over in 2017 but hope was restored when he took part in a military trial, undergoing pioneering surgery aimed at improving amputees' lives. He had a titanium rod hammered into his bone to allow him to connect his prosthetic leg, and his left femur had to be broken to fit the rod.
With a lengthy rehab behind him, disaster struck when Micky's leg collapsed under him on Christmas Eve and he was left nursing another break, which put his participation in Australia in serious doubt.
However, after narrowly missing out on a medal at Glasgow 2014 with a fourth-placed finish following another preparation disrupted by injury, Yule was in no mood to give in. He insisted before heading to Australia that if his leg were to break again in pursuit of his goal, it was a sacrifice he would be willing to make.
He said: “Competing for Team Scotland means everything; you feel that family vibe when you’re with Team Scotland. There’ll be nothing better than trying to win a medal for Scotland.
“I’ve had a lot of setbacks recently, and that fires me up. When I was in hospital and could not train, I just wanted to get out and get back to the fitness and strength I was at before. I’ve got plenty of targets left to achieve in the sport and I want to get them in the next couple of years.”
The sun-kissed beaches of the Queensland coast are a far cry from the battlefields in Afghanistan, but Yule says there are plenty of similarities in how he readies himself for competition and his previous life in the military.
He said: “If you are preparing for a competition it’s very similar to preparing to go to Afghanistan. It’s getting yourself prepared; it’s making sure everything is in place and trusting the team round you and having faith in your support structure.
“And then going there and hoping everything turns out well. Anything can happen on the day in sport, but if you’ve done everything you can to make sure it works then you can definitely relate that to the military.”
An integral part of Yule’s team is sportscotland strength and conditioning coach Neil Crosbie, who has been with Micky from the start of his journey in powerlifting.
The pair started working together after Micky was discovered by sportscotland initiative Gold4Glasgow, which looked for people who weren’t athletes but could potentially compete for Scotland at Glasgow 2014.
Yule hailed his coach’s influence on his career and praised the help he has had from the other staff at the sportscotland institute of sport, particularly during his recovery from injury.
He added: “The support I’ve had from National Lottery and sportscotland is massive. I’ve had quite a bad time through injuries and I’ve had support from the medical team the whole way, through scans, physios, rehab.
“sportscotland also released my coach when I couldn’t come up to Scotland to train, he actually came to the hospital I was doing my rehab at to train there. I’ve had that support the whole time and I want to repay that support by medalling at the Gold Coast.
“Neil and I have worked together from the very start. Both of us came into this sport not knowing too much about it. We’ve grown and experienced so many ups and downs, we’re a really strong unit now.”
Neil Crosbie added: “Micky Yule is one of the most inspirational athletes I’ve worked with. He is somebody who does extraordinary things when faced with so many challenges.
“From having both legs blown off to competing in the Paralympics and two Commonwealth Games ... to see how he has gone from that life-changing situation to make something positive out of it is truly inspiring.”
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