Page last updated at 07:20 GMT, Saturday, 31 January 2009

Amputee soldier's Paralympic dream

By Tom Warren
BBC News

Scott Blaney
The Grenadier Guard joined the Army in 2004

A soldier whose right leg was amputated after a bomb blast in Afghanistan is hoping to compete in the 2012 Paralympics.

Grenadier Guard Scott Blaney, 22, also suffered shrapnel wounds to his right arm and eye in the explosion in May 2007.

But Guardsman Blaney, of Nuneaton, Warwickshire, is determined his injuries will not stop him becoming an elite sportsman.

He is one of just three amputees still serving in the Grenadier Guards and hopes to take part in the London games.

The soldier was on foot patrol clearing compounds [small buildings] in Helmand Province when the explosive went off. It killed one of the Guardsman's colleagues and injured four others.

The 22-year-old had only been in Afghanistan for a month.

There's a possibility I could return to Afghanistan. I would go back now if I could
Scott Blaney

"Quite a lot of things were running through my mind, mainly trying to stay alive," he said.

"I spent a day in [Camp] Bastion where I got my leg amputated then I was flown back to the UK.

"I was in hospital for about six weeks and I walked soon after, about a month later."

He has always refused to become depressed by his injuries.

"It's a squaddie mentality - you can't feel sorry for yourself, you have to get on with things.

"I came to terms quite a long time ago [with what] has happened to me but I've never been down about it, I've turned it in to positives.

Cycling hopes

"I've just got back into the swing of things."

Guardsman Blaney attended a talent day at the English Institute of Sport, in Sheffield, on Thursday in the hope of impressing officials from the British Paralympic Association (BPA).

The event was the fifth in a series aimed at identifying disabled athletes who could be fast-tracked into sports with the possible aim of representing Team GB in 2012.

Cycling is the sport in which the soldier has the highest hopes of competing, but he also tried shooting, running and rowing.

We need to act immediately to ensure that anyone with a potential talent is identified
Phil Lane, BPA

"[Cycling] was hard to start off with, but you eventually get there. I go out once a day on the bike.

"It would be brilliant to get in to the Paralympics, it would be an honour. If anyone had the chance to serve their country in the Paralympics anyone would train hard for it."

Guardsman Blaney, who joined the Army in 2004, now plans to attend another talent-spotting event in February where he hopes to impress.

"I got good feedback and the BPA say they're interested."

ParalympicsGB chief executive Phil Lane said: "We've now got less than four years until the London Games, so we need to act immediately to ensure that anyone with a potential talent is identified and put on to a sporting pathway if we want to maximise our chances of winning medals on home soil."

Although the amputation will stop him returning to frontline action, the soldier is proud to continue to serve his regiment, which is based at Wellington Barracks, London.

"I help out in whatever I can do. There's a possibility I could return to Afghanistan. I would go back now if I could."



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