Sergeant Michael "Micky" Yule looks set to become one of the first Scottish Para-Sport athletes to qualify for Glasgow 2014 in the Powerlifting competition, after placing 4th at the European Championships in May and winning the British National Championships in June. Currently ranked number five in the world for the up to 72kg weight category by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Yule's focus for this next year is to be stronger than ever, and hopefully achieve gold at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, before he sets his sights on the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
A member of the British Army, Yule was injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) whilst serving in Afghanistan in 2010, an injury that required more than 40 operations and left him a double amputee. Competing in Power-lifting competitions for the Army since 2007, Yule took a year to recover from his accident before getting back into the gym in 2011 and competing for Great Britain in Para-Sport Powerlifting competitions.
"After I was injured, I struggled to find out if I could continue the sport and if it would be possible for me", the Musselburgh man said. "When I found out I had the opportunity to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Games, I was confident of doing it because I just needed to get over the accident mentally."
"I had more than forty operations after the accident, and it was hard to get back into training. Once I started training, and began hitting the numbers that I needed to get, it took a bit of the pressure off that I had built up."
Just two short years after his recovery, Yule is stronger than ever and looks forward to competing in two big competitions leading into the Commonwealth Games over the next year. The first challenge will be the Malaysia Open Powerlifting Championship in November, and then progressing to the IPC Powerlifting World Championships in April 2014.
"A lot of guys that I will be competing against at the Commonwealth Games will be at both of these events", Yule said. "The weight I need to hit is around 190-195kg. I'm a little behind that now, but I'm improving all the time."
Yule's current personal best is 183kg and if Yule can hit 190-195kg, he would be lifting more than three times his body weight.
Before his accident, Yule had been training with his friends and competing for the Army weightlifting team. Now, he is a British Weighlifting Association for the Disabled (BWAD) National Champion, a bronze medallist from the Dubai Open in February, and hopes to be the first Powerlifter to represent Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
"When you get picked for Scotland or Great Britain, you see how professional the setup is, as opposed to just training in the gym with my mates", Yule said. "It can be a bit daunting going through this roller coaster with all the different operations. Having something like the Commonwealth Games to look forward to is great and helps to take my mind off things and helps me visualize how to get on with my life."
With the one year to go mark celebrated today (23rd July), Yule is working away in the gym and showing the kind of courage and determination that most of us just can't contemplate. Now off his initial roller coaster ride and supported by the sportscotland institute of sport, Micky aims to steadily progress up the IPC rankings to number one in the world and hopefully gold at Glasgow 2014. At just 34 years old, he still has many years to come in the sport, and he is not planning on slowing down anytime soon.
You can follow Micky on Twitter @MickyYule9
Photo Credit: Rob Eyton-Jones, courtesy of sportscotland