Paralympics 2012 #1: Lost and Found
He was nine – in fact it was his birthday – nine and messing on the train tracks in South Wales. As he tried to climb aboard the last carriage of a slow-moving freight train grinding to a halt on the Swansea to Paddington line, looking to get his kicks surfing on its roof, Nathan Stephens lost his legs, sheared off, never to kick again.
But in losing those youthful limbs in April 1997, it turned out he found something too. It changed his life forever. He is now a gold medal hope for javelin (my own preferred event at school, hence my starting this series with Nathan) at the London Paralympics to be covered by Channel 4 this summer. “Before the accident, he was wild and woolly. He would have been happy being a bin man and playing for the local rugby club”, according to his mother. “There is more determination to his life – you’ve only got one life, and you have to take every opportunity … He lost something, but he gained something even greater.”