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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Inspirational: Father of two counts his blessings after 38-tonne lorry collision

Inspirational: Father of two counts his blessings after 38-tonne lorry collision

Not many people can survive a head on collision with a 38-tonne lorry, but rather than sitting still and counting his blessings, Andrew Lewis is battling to bring home an Olympic medal.

The father of two, who works as an engineer at Airbus, Filton, is hoping to secure his place in the GB triathlon team at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year.

Ranked the number one paraduathlete in the UK, he is inspirational example of someone who has triumphed in the face of adversity.

Andrew, 32, said: "It is quite surreal, but I am training really hard to make it on to the Rio team, it would be incredible to compete for an Olympic medal."

A confident teenager, Andrew was an enthusiastic runner aiming to sign up to the Parachute Regiment and travel the world.

But it was on a wet day in 1999 that his motorbike skidded under the wheels of a large lorry.

Lucky to be alive, but seriously injured, Andrew went through multiple operations and long periods in hospital.

At 16-years-old his life had changed irreversibly and all his hopes and dreams for the future were dashed.

"It was hard to contemplate what had happened," he said.

"I lost a lot of friends because I couldn't go out and socialise - I was stuck inside at the time when I should have been out enjoying life.

"Psychologically it was tough to cope with as a teenager. It was a difficult time."

After enduring six years of pain, Andrew decided to have his right leg amputated in 2005.

"My brother served in Iraq and I found it hard thinking of all the action out there and feeling that I wanted to be involved.

"When he came back I made the decision to have the operation and it was then that my life turned around."

On the road to Rio: Andrew Lewis is hoping to compete at the Paralympic Games next year

Having not taken part in sport for many years, Andrew made tentative steps back in to exercise.

He joined Lydney Boxing Club, where he trained as a child, and signed up to Bristol Athletics club.

Now, just 18 months after his first triathlon, the super-dad, is well on the road to Rio.

"It has been a difficult journey, but I am very excited. I still have so much to learn and lots of room to progress."

After being granted a two year sabbatical by Airbus, Andrew is able to turn his full attention to training.

He spends four days a week at a state-of-the-art sports facility in Loughborough where he undertakes a gruelling programme of running, swimming, cycling weights and flexibility work-outs along with a strict calorie-controlled diet.

He also spends weeks away from his wife Becky, and children, Jasmine, eight, and Logan, 18 months.

Andrew said: "It can be hard, not just physically, but mentally being away from my family and psychologically preparing for such an important games.

"I don't know where I will be for Tokyo 2020, so I am treating this as my one shot."

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