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PEOPLE PROFILE Anthony Cooper


Cooper lost both legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan. Despite being told he’d never walk again, he recovered and was named David Lloyd Leisure’s PT Hero of the Year 2012 – and hopes to become a Paralympian


You were seriously injured on duty in Afghanistan. What happened? While out on foot patrol, I stepped onto an IED (improvised explosive device). It was a large one and I was fl own back the UK to die on British soil. I was in a coma for nearly fi ve weeks and the doctors told my family I had the worst blast brain injury they had seen in 25 years. Somehow, however, I survived, and with the help of my family and rehab facility Headley Court, I’ve got to where I am now: training at a David Lloyd gym and hoping to compete in Iron Man and the Paralympics.


When did you decide you’d try and qualify for the Paralympics? At Headley Court they chat constantly about the future and sports. When they said I could train for the Paralympics and possibly get into the Paralympics GB team, I was excited and wanted to get on it straight away. At the 2012 Games, the Paralympics GB


team demonstrated tremendous courage and showed the world that disability can’t hold you back if you are willing to keep going forward. I would be proud to be a part of that – and to show all those who thought I would never do anything due to the extent of my injuries that I am a fi ghter and will never give up. I’ll be medically discharged from the


army eventually and have always enjoyed sport. Being injured has given me a lot of opportunities that may never have come my way otherwise. As they say, when one door closes, another opens.


Have you singled out a particular event you will aim to qualify in? Running. I’ve always enjoyed running and I used to be pretty fast, so I intend to get back to it as soon as I’m on my running legs. They do say that you can’t run before you can walk – and in my case, I know exactly what they mean.


February 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


Other than the Paralympics, do you have any other future sporting plans? I’ve always enjoyed running and want to continue, so as I say, I would also like to take on the Iron Man challenge one day.


Where are you with your training at the moment, in relation to competing? I’d love to be at the next Paralympics in 2016, and would like to take part in an Iron Man in two years’ time. I only started walking this year and, with Rob’s help [a personal trainer at David Lloyd Leisure], using my legs in the gym to help build the muscle. I’m currently off my legs for about a month as I’ve just had surgery to shave down my right knee. I also had a nerve removed from my leg and put into my left hand to try and get some feeling in my fi ngers. I won’t be able to attend the gym until I’ve recovered from these operations, but as everyone who knows me knows, as soon as I can I will be back there at the gym working towards my goals again.


Have you always been into fitness? I joined the army at 16 and that’s when my fi tness training really started. I went on a run daily, sometimes carrying various weights up to about 42kg in my backpack as part of training. I joined David Lloyd last January for the fi rst time because of the extensive equipment they have.


How often do you get to visit the gym for training sessions? I only get home every four weeks and then I try for a daily session. Even when Rob is on a day off, he tries to get in to help me continue with my routine.


What is your favourite film? I enjoy war fi lms.


What is your favourite motto in life? Never say never.


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