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Paralympics in James' sights; Hero soldier tells of his rowing dream.

Byline: SOPHIE BARLEY sophie.barley@eveninggazette.co.uk

A SOLDIER who lost both his legs while on patrol in Afghanistan is hoping to compete in the 2016 Paralympic Games.

Private James Rose has been in and out of hospital since he stepped on an improvised explosion device in Helmand Province in November 2009.

The 25-year-old from Middlesbrough was lucky to survive the blast as medics did not think he would make it home.

He is still on the road to recovery and has now started adaptive rowing at Tees Rowing Club. He is determined to compete in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.

He said: "I am really enjoying rowing. It is something to keep me busy. I am quite a competitive person, I don't like to lose.

"I would love to compete in the Paralympics. I enjoyed watching the London Paralympics as there were a few people taking part who I know."

James' fiancee, Naiomi Wise, 23, has nominated him for this year's Gazette Armed Forces Community Champion. James won the award in 2010.

Naiomi said: "It seems like it has been such a long time since James had his accident and he has had so many hurdles to jump since then. But he has come out fighting."

In January 2011 James went into hospital to have a colostomy bag removed and his internal organs reversed. While in hospital he was diagnosed with the bacterial infection MRSA and pneumonia. Naiomi said: "That really set James back. Before that he was starting to walk well and was enjoying life. But he basically had to start from scratch again after the MRSA. He was in hospital for three months with it."

It meant that James couldn't take part in the coast-to-coast Race Across America with other injured soldiers.

Despite wanting to continue serving in the Army, James, of the Yorkshire Regiment 2nd Battalion, is due to be medically discharged in February.

He then hopes to volunteer for charities which help serving officers and ex-servicemen. Naiomi said: "He wants to give back all the help he and his family received."

James spends a lot of time at Headley Court, the defence rehabilitation unit in Surrey, and is there now for six weeks.

He is continuing with his rowing training with coach Caroline MacDonald from Durham.

He said: "I have all the facilities here that I need to keep up with the rowing."

Naiomi added: "I am very proud of James. Anything that is thrown at him, he takes it. He is really enjoying the rowing and is really good at it. He keeps improving his time. It gives him something to aim for."

CAPTION(S):

PRIDE: James the young soldier, right, and with fiancee Naiomi during a homecoming parade, left, in 2010 after his devastating injury

DETERMINED: James Rose with Naiomi Wise, above, and how we told their moving story Pictures by IAN McINTYRE and IAN COOPER
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 19, 2012
Words:484
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