Private Derek Derenalagi selected for the Paralympics

Private Derenalagi, from 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (2 MERCIAN), lost his legs when an anti-tank mine exploded in Afghanistan, but that hasn't stopped him from fighting back to earn his place in London 2012 in the Discus event. 

 Following the explosion that almost cost him his life, it is a miracle that Private Derenalagi is still here. Five years ago, in July 2007, while on patrol in Helmand province with three comrades, who were clearing a site for a Chinook helicopter to land, the Landrover they were in rolled over a 44 gallon drum hidden underground that was full of ball bearings, metals and six-inch nails. Conscious throughout the whole ordeal, a shard of metal ripped through his chin, knocking out teeth and blowing away his legs.

Luckily, a rescue helicopter was soon on the scene, and Private Derenalagi was airlifted to a field hospital where doctors amputated what remained of his legs. "Today in Afghanistan, they have fantastic facilities, doctors, nurses and medics and without them I wouldn't be here," he notes. After relocating to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, he discovered Battle Black: an initiative that rehabilitates injured troops through sport. This discovery changed his life, and after trying out a number of upper body sports, Private Derenalagi settled on shot put and discuss.

Now Private Derenalagi is pinning his hopes on the Discus in the Olympic Stadium on 31 August. He is confident following a gold medal triumph in last month's European Championships in Holland where he beat Russia's paralympic champion.

"The Paralympics has changed in a big way," he said. "I watched the Paralympics in Beijing and it was fantastic. It has grown so much in four years. It doesn't just raise awareness of paralympians, but of disabled people all over the world, and I am so humbled to be part of it."