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‘The fire in my belly was lit’ – Essex paratrooper Scott Meenagh hopes for Paralympic glory in Para-Nordinc skiing

PUBLISHED: 19:43 12 January 2018 | UPDATED: 19:43 12 January 2018

Scott Meenagh pictures with Prince Harry at the Invictus Games, Toronto 2017. Picture: HELP FOR HEROES

Scott Meenagh pictures with Prince Harry at the Invictus Games, Toronto 2017. Picture: HELP FOR HEROES

@theocohen/helpforheroes

An Essex paratrooper who was forced to revaluate his life ambitions when he lost both legs in an explosion has found a new “infectious optimism” through sport and hopes for glory in the Paralympic Games.

Scott Meenagh hopes to represent Great Britain in Para-Nordic Skiing at the Paralympic Games next year. Picture: HELP FOR HEROES Scott Meenagh hopes to represent Great Britain in Para-Nordic Skiing at the Paralympic Games next year. Picture: HELP FOR HEROES

Former Private Scott Meenagh had achieved his dream of becoming an elite soldier when he joined Colchester-based 2 Para.

But his dreams were left in tatters when, aged 21, he lost both legs in an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan – an experience he simply refers to as a “rough day at work”.

“All I wanted to be was a paratrooper or rugby player,” said Mr Meenagh. “Those two things had been taken away from me so I had to re-valuate and start breaking things up and think about what the rest of my life would look like. I knew immediately that avenue and part of my life was over and I had to find a new purpose and reason to get out of bed.

“I knew I needed a new focus and for me that was learning to walk again. I wanted to be mobile and independent and be the master of my own fate again.”

Scott Meenagh competes for the UK team in the Invictus Games, Toronto 2017. Picture: HELP FOR HEROES Scott Meenagh competes for the UK team in the Invictus Games, Toronto 2017. Picture: HELP FOR HEROES

Mr Meenagh spent to years at Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre, where he was introduced to Help for Heroes and a new world of sport through the charity’s Battle Back programme.

“I was able to find a new drive and a new reason through sport,” he added. “I was one of the lucky ones on that respect. It helped me focus on what I can do, not what I couldn’t. It enables you to learn new skills and find new limits. It’s a great way to reinstill confidence, which has been lost. Sport helped me find that infectious optimism.”

After taking part in the first Invictus Games in London 2014, which was launched by Prince Harry, Mr Meenagh realised sport was his future. He was part of the Paralympic Inspiration Programme, which visited Sochi Winter Paralympics, where he was introduced to Para-Nordic skiing. “I was amazed by it - the physicality, the skill technique, the environment,” he said,

“The fire in my belly was lit.”

Scott Meenagh competes for the UK team in the Invictus Games, Toronto 2017. Picture: HELP FOR HEROES Scott Meenagh competes for the UK team in the Invictus Games, Toronto 2017. Picture: HELP FOR HEROES

Through the H4H partnership with the Armed Forces Para-Snowsport Team, Mr Meenagh has been able to develop his new love of the sport into a chance of Paralympic glory. “I feel incredibly lucky to be given the opportunity I have,” he said.

“I feel fit, I feel strong and I have the chance to do something really special with my life.”

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