Published: 09:15, 08 May 2014
An athlete from Ashford who underwent nearly 40 operations in eight years only to then lose his leg, is now targeting Paralympic success.
Adrian Heathfield broke his right leg in a snowboarding accident in 2003 and since it was removed in 2011, the 39-year-old has pursued a career in paratriathlons – a sport dedicated to athletes with a physical disability.
Heathfield has now set his sights on a place at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, Brazil, after the triathlon – which encompasses swimming, running and cycling disciplines – was announced as a new event for the upcoming games.
It’s perfect timing for the mature university student as just two weeks ago he was named as a member of Great Britain’s world class performance squad which will provide quality coaching and training environments in the run up to 2016.
A rigorous selection and training process now lies ahead for the Ashford Tri Club member who is delighted to have got this far after the spiral fracture injury forced his leg to be amputated.
He said: “I had close to over 40 operations over eight years and then decided (to have the leg amputated).
“It was partly down to infections and my decision. I was mentally in a good place but the leg was the one thing that wasn’t working.”
Following the amputation, Heathfield – who studies at Canterbury Christ Church University – looked at paratriathlons and entered his first event just six months after the operation.
delivering strong performances in each discipline, and finished another event with a broken leg after damaging his femur bone.
He said: “I won’t be told until later in the year about Rio. I’ve just got to perform year-on-year and control the controllables.”
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