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UK Athletics

bushell back from the brink & back to chasing glory 

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Mickey Bushell
04 May 2016 

Since his gold medal triumph at the Paralympic Games in 2012, Mickey Bushell has been on a turbulent ride, which showed no signs of slowing down coming within touching distance of the point of no return.

Shoulder and elbow injuries in 2013 and 2014 saw the Birchfield Harrier hanging on by a thread, but incredibly still managed to claim silver at the IPC World Championships in Lyon and two medals at the IPC European Championships in Swansea.

His guts and determination were evident to see, but he was about to face the biggest challenge of his life at the start of last year when he thought things he was on the road to recovery after an injury-ravaged two years.

“Everything was going great in January to March 2015. I had a good summer down under in Australia and then we went do Lisbon (Half Marathon) and did a decent time there.  A few weeks after I fell ill with the infection and the initial thought that it was a stomach bug. A couple days later and I was in hospital with a huge infection. I was being sick every two to five minutes, which took its toll when the hospital is 15 minutes away.”

Bushell's diagnosis worsened with onset of septicemia but battled back and was back on the road to recovery. However, this wasn’t the end of the troubles, as he was readmitted twice in the subsequent three weeks. Incidentally the final time for the Telford-based athlete saw him on the brink in a worrying time for teammates, friends and family.

“When I spoke to specialist they said it wasn’t a normal infection and a weird strand. He said I was about 12 hours from the point of no return and I would have gone.”

However, displaying his true grit and determination which is so clear on the track, Bushell has made a full recovery but admits that a period of seven months off training left him playing catch up.

“When I started training in October again, mentally I was gone because I’d gone back to square one and I felt like a junior again. That was the place I was in for months because I was always worrying about whether I was going to get ill again.

“It made me realise we’re not indestructible for one and it showed without training you can lose it quite quickly. I think if I lost the sport, I would have lost a bit of myself. I’m not the best of people on a normal break after the Paralympics, so to have this illness off the back of the previous two years with shoulder and elbow injuries was a huge blow.”  

Bushell is in no doubt that he has the capability to repeat his medal-winning feats in South America in four months’ time, but after a rocky ride with illness and injury, it has bought some perspective moving forwards on the road to Rio.   

“It’s (Rio) been the biggest focus, but it was firstly about staying healthy. Performance is key but staying healthy in our lives is just as important. Touch wood I’ve been healthy and hopefully it’ll continue in the lead up to the Games.

“I think I do (have the chance to wind gold), but it’s been a rough few years. We just have to plough through it and get things done. I think the biggest thing we have to take away from it is not what we don’t have, but work with what we do have. That’s the biggest driver now.”

Bushell will open his season in Stoke Mandeville before heading to the IPC Grand Prix in Notwill with the aim of securing the necessary criteria to qualify for June’s IPC Athletics European Championships in Grosseto. However, there’s a date in the next 18 months, which has really given the T53 Paralympic 100m gold medallist motivation to get back on top of the podium.    

“It will be brilliant being back in the Olympic Stadium (for the World ParaAthletics Championships in 2017. I think that’s another thing that’s kept me going is that if I stay healthy this year and train hard then I can come out of this year’s winter ready for the Worlds in 2017.”

The turbulent journey has now settled and now the British star has his sights on reclaiming his place on the podium in 2016.

“I think the perfect year would be not being ill. Winning gold (in Rio) would be perfect and taking more records would be a plus. Staying healthy and performing well and getting back to the form I was in prior to 2012 and 2012 itself. Every year I was up there constantly, so it’s now my focus to return to those heights.”  

You can follow Bushell on his journey to Rio and beyond via Twitter here