Less than 18 months after an horrific accident at work left him wheelchair-bound, Shane Percival has won his first para powerlifting event and is targeting the Paralympics.
The 32-year-old scaffolder from Hoyland fell 30 feet through a roof while working on a handrail at Aldham House industrial estate in Wombwell on November 3, 2014. He broke his back in five places, severed his spinal cord, punctured both lungs, cracked nine ribs and fractured his right shoulder.
"I can just remember stepping onto the roof then my next memory is waking up in hospital," said Shane, who had spent two weeks in a coma and was in hospital for five months.
"It was hard to take but, being in that ward of the hospital, there is always someone worse off than you. My family and friends were very supportive and I have always tried to see the positive side. I am still here. I would have died if the air ambulance hadn't got me from Wombwell to Sheffield in three minutes."
Shane – now classed a 'complete paraplegic' – had been an amateur body-builder before the accident, capable of bench pressing 200kg, and he has decided to attempt the Paralympic sport of powerlifting. After initially struggling to lift 2k kettlebells, he has worked his way up to 100k which was enough to win the Inter Spinal Unit Games at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Buckinghamshire this week.
He was representing Sheffield's Princess Royal Spinal Cord Injuries Centre where he spent much of 2015 in rehabilitation. He has now been invited to a 'golden chance' event at Loughborough University on April 29 which is a trial for the Great Britain team.
Shane said: "It was great to win an event against a lot of lifters from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. The next step is competing in the national championships then I want to get to the Paralympics. This year's Paralympics in Rio are too soon but 2020 in Tokyo is very realistic.
"Powerlifting has given me a new lease of life and something to focus on. I am ready to dedicate the next four years to it and give it everything I have got. I'd like to represent my country and take it as far as I can. I still feel pain when I lift because of all the rods and screws in my back. GB have got the best coaches and facilities which will really get the best out of me."
Alongside his powerlifting training, Shane hopes to become a personal trainer for the disabled. He said: "There aren't many gym facilities in the Barnsley area for people in wheelchairs and they can feel a bit intimidated in an able-bodied gym. I want to show them that they can train and exercise like everyone else. I have applied for some courses and hopefully that will be my new career."
Shane has contacted a solicitor about his accident. He said: "I have been told I could be waiting five years until there is a decision on a settlement and who is at fault. There are a lot of reports and legal processes to go through. I am just going to get on with my life in the meantime. If it does take five years, hopefully I will be a Paralympian by then."