‘After losing my legs, running was the thing I missed the most. That feeling of moving fast under my own steam. The prosthetic order of things meant running was only reserved for those who had mastered walking and leg care. You had to work hard and be patient to get on running blades. It took me nearly 3 years, hampered by surgery, to get there. It hurt, it was exhausting and my leg fell off twice… I was hooked.’
Luke has always had a keen interest in sport so it was no surprise that sport should go on to play a pivotal role in his recovery. For him, sport challenged him physically, it drove him to overcome hurdles and the limitations of his injuries, it was the catalyst that gave him the strength, skills and resilience to move from stubbies, to Geniums, to blades. It challenged him mentally too. He had to be creative, to work out how to do something that required legs, without them. To float, to balance, to run. Sport required him to be disciplined, to be precise, to reflect on and improve his performance. It prepared him to be a prosthetic user, and it enables him to stay fit enough to use them.
When Luke and his team were preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, as well as completing the right training, like the medical first aid training that saved Luke’s life, they also had to get their hearts and minds in the right place. Before they left they had to discuss the quite real threat of injury, the very real threat to their lives and find a way to look the danger in the eye and not be afraid. They made a pact. If anyone of them was injured, that soldier would fight on and represent their country once again, on the Paralympic stage. Luke intends to keep his promise and has his sights on Tokyo 2020.
Now a T42 Long Jumper, Luke has competed at international events in Dubai, Italy, Berlin, Paris and the US as well as at home in the UK, and will be representing Team GB at the Para Athletics World Championships in July.
Sport is also about teams and team work and Luke would not have recovered the way he has without the unique support and understanding he shares with other injured personnel. They fought together and they fought back together and this spirit is perfectly encompassed by the ethos of the Invictus Games. It is about competition and striving to do your best, but more importantly its about lifting others, inspiring others and enabling people who have been on incredibly difficult personal journeys to achieve something they never thought could be possible. Its celebrating recovery and celebrating everyone for what they gave for their country. Luke is extremely proud to have represented Team GB in athletics at the Invictus Games in Florida in 2016, winning a silver medal in the 100m and a gold in the 400m. He hopes to beat this tally this year at the games in Toronto in September.