Gold Coast 2018: I’ll break my leg to win medal, says powerlifter Micky Yule
Nothing is going to stop Paralympic powerlifter Micky Yule from competing at the Commonwealth Games – not even a broken leg.
The 39-year-old Scot finished just outside the medals at Glasgow 2014, and that frustration spurs him on.
“I finished fourth in Glasgow,” he told BBC Scotland. “I don’t want that again.
“I have more sleepless nights about that than getting blown up. People laugh, but that’s the truth. It was a missed opportunity.”
Eight years ago, Yule lost both his legs when he stepped on an improvised explosive device, while serving with the Royal Engineers in Afghanistan.
Since then, he has competed at the Rio Paralympics and tasted success at European and world level, winning gold at the 2016 Invictus Games.
But preparations for the Gold Coast in April have been beset with problems, with the athlete at one stage fearing he would not be able to compete in Australia.
Yule took part in a military trial, undergoing pioneering surgery aimed at improving amputees’ lives.
“It’s called osseointegration,” he explained, “Putting a titanium rod straight in your bone and hammering it in so it connects and then you attach your prosthetic leg to that.”
During this procedure, in September, his left femur had to be broken to fit the rod properly. Rehab followed, but so too did a setback.
‘I’ve done a bit of hiding from doctors and surgeons’
Yule broke the same bone again on Christmas Eve. He was just standing by his car and the leg collapsed.
“I thought there would be a chance that I’d get pulled out [of the Games],” he said. “They actually thought I’d been in a car crash.
“I thought I’d be alright, but I thought possibly that decision might be taken out of my hands by the medical team.
“So I’ve done a wee bit of hiding from doctors and surgeons and I’ve been training hard and getting fitter and fitter.”
Still unable to put any pressure on his left leg, Yule has had to completely rethink his training programme.
“We’re definitely down training-wise where we would have liked to have been,” he conceded.
“I’m all about big weights, low reps, getting strong caveman-style and we’ve had to change that. I feel like I’m training more like a body builder with lighter weight and more reps.”
It will not be until he arrives in Australia that he and his coach will up the weights to test the leg, with Yule saying: “We’re just going to smash it and see what happens.”
Mental strength has played a big part in dealing with the setbacks.
“I’m just getting used to not having smooth runs into big competitions,” he said. “I hurt my [pectoral muscle] before Glasgow.
“I’ve been in darker places than breaking my leg, I’m not saying it wasn’t painful, it was, but I’ve had worse than that and I’ve come back stronger every time. I need to go again.
“We’re here to [win a] medal; me breaking my leg twice doesn’t change that, so everything is geared towards winning a medal.
“My surgeon has told me that my leg is stronger than any other leg – it’s metal from the top of my femur right to the very end, held together with bolts and screws and plates.
“But if it was to break again during competition then so be it. I’ll break my leg to [win a] medal.”
That determination was evident when Yule took part in a recent television documentary, in which he was the first double amputee to learn the skeleton as he took on the most dangerous track in the world with five-time world champion Martins Dukurs.
‘We attached rockets to my legs – it was crazy’
“It was all about knocking down those barriers that disabled people get put in front of them,” he said.
“We attached some rockets to my legs to see what would happen and it was crazy. It was the buzz I needed after Rio and I hope we inspired a lot of people.”
Yule relishes the fact the Commonwealth Games allows able bodied and disabled athletes to compete in the same team on the same stage.
“Scotland has a medal target and I want to tick one of those numbers off,” he added.
“If the Games weren’t in April, I’d probably still be in rehab sorting my leg out, but that’s in an ideal world, and in an ideal world I’d still have two legs and I’ve not, so I just need to get on with it.”