From the brink of death to Paralympic glory as Norfolk man is called up to Prince Harry’s Invictus Games team after motorcycle crash
PUBLISHED: 10:38 29 June 2017 | UPDATED: 10:10 03 July 2017
A man with disabilities from East Tuddenham who was nearly killed in a motorcycle accident has moved closer to achieving his dream of competing at the Paralympics after being called up to represent Team GB in the Invictus Games.
Olaf Jones, 54, will be heading to the games for wounded, injured and sick military personal and veterans, in Toronto, Canada in September.
The former Royal Air Force Sergeant will compete in shot put, discus and archery.
Mr Jones lost his left arm while racing at the Isle of Man TT in 1997. He had entered a bend at more than 170mph on his Honda CBR 600 motorcycle when a strong gust of wind blew him off-course. He hit a fence post with his arm before carrying on at the same extreme speeds.
He said: “My right arm clouted the fence post which smashed it to bits. I then couldn’t brake the bike for the next left, but according to eye witnesses I hit the back brake, went down three gears but was still going way over the speed for the corner.
“I left the road and went into a metal gate at about 160mph. As a result of that I was actually dead for about two minutes but fortunately there was an off-duty paramedic who found my off-switch and turned me back on.”
Upon arriving at the hospital the doctors told the father of two he was in danger of losing his left arm, right arm and right leg but eventually it was only his left arm that was amputated.
After a two and a half year recovery Mr Jones decided to take up rife shooting, competing for Great Britain at the world championships in 2004 and following the announcement of London 2012 he made it his goal to compete in the Paralympics.
“I thought, here I was, a baggy, middle-aged man sat down on the sofa getting a bit stale. I was competitive in rife shooting but it’s not really an athletic activity so I thought I’m going to pull my finger out and get my act together.”
Mr Jones started training at Thetford Athletic Club, taking up discus and shot put but had to keep staggering his efforts after a number of deaths in his family.
Now with his sights on competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics he applied to be part of the Invictus team and was selected from more than 300 applicants.
What are the Invictus Games?
The Invictus Games are an annual international sporting event for servicemen and women who have been injured, wounded or become sick during service for their country.
The games were set up by Prince Harry in 2014 after he visited the Warrior Games in Colorado, USA the year before.
He saw how sport could help those living with disabilities both physically and mentally
All participants in the games are serving or ex-serving military personnel who have been selected after putting themselves forward for the national team.
The first games took place in September 2014 in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with more than 400 competitors from 13 nations competing in nine different disciplines.
This has now grown to 550 competitors from 17 nations across 12 sports.
The next Invictus Games are taking place in Toronto, Canada with the following year in Sydney, Australia.
Olaf Jones’ training routine
Olaf Jones has to follow a strict training routine if he is to achieve his goal of Paralympic glory.
The athlete attends the gym three times a week to complete fitness and strength work. He also practices his shot put and discus technique at a city club twice a week.
When he is not training he is at home, not relaxing, but practicing archery in his back garden.
Because Mr Jones is unable to pull back the bow string on his archery bow, he used his RAF engineering skills to construct a mechanism that is able to pull back the string and release it for him.
Archery came naturally to the sharp shooter after a successful run as a rifle shooter. He competed for Team GB in the World Championships and has previously been a shooter on the RAF team before deciding to mix it up and go into a range of events.