Two surfers from the West Country who were injured while serving in the Armed Forces competed this weekend (December 9th to 11th) at the ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship. Martin Pollock from Mullion, Cornwall and Chris Jones from Ivybridge, Devon competed for Team GB in San Diego, US, facing off against 18 other countries.Devon competed for Team GB in San Diego, US, facing off against 18 other countries.
Both athletes suffered life-changing injuries during service, requiring surgeries and years of rehabilitation. They were supported during their recovery by Help for Heroes, which helped them get to the point where they were competing in the Championships.
Martin Pollock, aged 33, was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, a year after joining the Army. He was shot in the leg but was able to return to the frontline after a short stint in rehab. However, in early 2010, he lost both his legs and his left arm when he was caught in an explosion.
He was introduced to the team at the UK side of Operation Surf, which is supported by Help for Heroes and provides rehabilitation through surfing.
He told H4H: “It’s hard to describe what I felt when I first started surfing. I don’t think I realised the impact until later, how much it grabbed me. When I’m surfing I’m happy; it’s peaceful, it’s fun.”
Martin has since taken part regularly in Operation Surf camps, allowing him to improve his skills so much that he was chosen to compete for Team GB at the World Adaptive Surfing Championship.
Chris Jones, aged 43, was discharged from the army when he was just 25 and barely able to walk due to injury. However, it was his mental health that led him to contact Help for Heroes for support. He got involved with a lot of different activities that helped his mental health but nothing lived up to his love of surfing.
Unfortunately, Chris had to give up surfing when his physical condition deteriorated. He has received help to adapt how he surfs so he can cope with his injuries. While he still experiences pain when he surfs, he says that the benefits far outweigh this. His determination found him being selected for Team GB to compete in the US.
“To surf in a formal competition legitimises 17 years of negativity from stand-up surfers who don’t think I surf because I’m sitting down," he said. "I’ve been trying to find something I can be proud of again and now I’m competing in the World Championships, which is definitely a proud moment for me.”
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