Monday, August 27, 2012

Our Interview with Pte Derek Derenalagi Wounded Warrior & Paralympian

On 19th July 2007, Derek was in Helmand Province, clearing a helicopter landing site and went up to high ground to get a clear view of the area. As his vehicle reversed to park, it hit an IED and exploded. Derek says ‘I remember lying there with my legs shattered and people around me screaming. I looked up to the sky and said a prayer: Lord Jesus, if you need to use me to motivate others about Your Kingdom, please give me back my life again.’

Back in Camp Bastion, Derek was pronounced dead but amazingly, one of the doctors saw a slight pulse movement. He was operated on and then taken back to the UK. For the next two weeks, he was in an induced coma. When he eventually woke up, his wife and a doctor were by his bedside. He asked if he could go to the loo but his wife, Ana, replied, ‘I’m afraid you can’t as you’ve lost your legs’. Derek was shocked: ‘I couldn’t believe it because I could feel that I still had my boots on and my feet were very warm.’

Derek was kind enough to do an interview for our blog and below are some of the questions our members wanted to ask as well.Please take a moment to join Derek's Facebook page and wish him well in the Paralympics after reading this.

Thank You

TAS - How many people have come up to you and said you can't do this, and what do you say to them? Many people approached me saying that its' impossible to get into the Paralympics in 4years as it takes more than 4years to prepare for it and being a novice there was no way I could do it. I even had a coach who once said that if I don't get selected he'd be happy to assist me selling pop corn outside the gates. Another seasoned coach upon hearing of my intentions at the initial stage sounded skeptical and said the Olympics is a level of it's own and you don't just breeze into it in a span of 3-4 years.......

 TAS - What Branch of Service were you in and your rank?
I still serve in the Infantry Regiment - i.e the Worscester, Sherwood and Forresters Regiment- still a serving soldier and I am a Private.

TAS - What would you say is the most common missconception people have
about disabled athletes and Wounded Warriors?

That we are severely handicapped in all areas, emotionally, physically, socially and mentally.
People often see disabled people as below them in these areas of life. They do not accept them as normal people

TAS - What event will you be competing in and have you competed before?
Discus event in the F57 Catergory. And NO, I have never done discus before, i only picked it up after my injury.

TAS - Our Facebook page has members from every corner of the world, what
would you like to say to them?
I love the quote by Zig Ziglar because i feel it sums up what i have been through which is "It's not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts"

Some of our members wanted to ask you a few questions also :

Mirelle Leone - When did you start training and what's your training
schedule like?
I started training in general soon a year after my injury and rehab. But my paralympic ambitions were birthed at my hospital bed iin 2008 whilst watching the Beijing Olympics. I vividly recall telling my wife that i wanted to represent Great Britain at the 2012 Paralympic Games. I didn't know in which sport but i knew within me that I wanted to be a paralympian.
A few months later in November 2008 as part of the Ministry of Defence's Battle Back programme, funded by the Help for Heores charity. I was selected to be part of a training camp at theUnited States Olympic Training Center at Chula Vista, California where there were also injured US Veterans and Wounded Warriors. After that camp, I was so determined to fulfil my ambition, i tried out several sports and I settled for Discus, Javelin and Shotput since they were conducive to my injury. i've narrowed down to one discipline which is Discus. I now train 8 hours a day. Four in the morning and four in the afternoon. I wind down at the weekends, Saturday is just light training at the gym and Sunday is my complete rest day.

Brian Foulk - First I would like to thank you for your sacrifice and your family's sacrifice. Being a vet myself, I couldn't imagine what I would be like mentally to be severely wound. What gave you the motivation to make these great accomplishments, and did it start right away? Thank you and
God Bless.

After my injury I was left thinking, What now? I thank God that I have a supportive family, especially my wife who has stood by me and held my hand through it all. She has been my driving force and motivation and has never ceased to encourage me. Together we have leaned on our faith, as born again Christians and trusted totally in the Lord to see us through.

Sharon Ehrmann-LeBarron - How long have you trained for this physically and emotionally?
Four years in total- my initial rehab included

Louise Burns - which is a more exciting way to represent his country: in the army or at the Paralympics?
Both- I chose to be in the army and I've always wanted to be soldier from my childhood. I consider it an honor and a brave act of courage for soldiers to go out and protect their country especially when their life is in danger and there is the threat of death hanging over them. It is exciting in its own 'military' way. Something that only a military man will ever know.

Being in the Paralympics is exciting too in its own way. It has its demands which can be gruelling and tough but dedication and motivation is key to enjoying it. Representing ones country in the sports arena is both a phenomenal and awesome experience. I am enjoying it so much- it's a true labor of love for me and I do not see my self retiring form it ever. I will go on for as long as I can right to my ripe old age.

 Karla Dorman - Who is your hero and why?
I have many people i look up to. Mostly positive people who inspire me to do positive things and who encourage me to keep moving onwards and upwards.

Ty Nosaka - My brother is in a wheelchair, has been for 12 years. He has become a hermit and is angry and depressed ,he is paralyzed from the waist down. What advice, if any, would you give him and others? Being in a wheel chair is not the end of the world. There's much more to life out there. If you become a hermit, get angry and depressed you will only aggregravate your problems. You're wasting your precious energy on being negative. That energy could be diverted elsewhere like for starts, changing your mindset to that of being positive. It all starts in your mind. Thats how I managed my injury, I believed in myself and where all odds were against me, i refused to believe that- and I moved on- no matter how long it was going to take me, i firmly believed that i would walk again and I did, gradual at first after 2 months to a span of 4 years now- and I am up and about on my prosthetic legs.

Its not how far you fall but how high you bounce back from your adversity that counts, and dont carry your mistakes around with you, place them under your feet instead and use them as stepping stones and remember obstacles will be put your way but they are there to see if want you really want is worth fighting for. And, always surround yourself with positive people who support you!

Jennifer Chamberlain - Thank u first and foremost. What made the decision to go and do this. What motivated u in a way that was positive? I was inspired by the Beijing 2008 Olympics from my hospital bed and my biggest supporter and the one who believed in me the most- my wife who really encouraged and drove me.

Renee Mair - What a source of inspiration. My question: what advice would you have for someone training and entering the Paralympics? What can one expect in the form of training requirements and application process? Set yourself a goal and work towards it. Focus is key. Be positive always and stay motivated. You have to always better yourself each day. Stay committed. Competition will be tough but if you have prepared yourself well and done the ground work you should not have any problems.

 Jill Carleton - do you feel you get the support they need to train; if they need additional resources?
 I do, I am well looked after by my sponsors Vauxhall Motors UK and they have done such a wonderful job looking after my sporting needs. Without them I believe it would have been difficult. I am thankful that I have this relationship with Vauxhall who are an absolute God send to my sporting career.

Finally I wish to add, that as a born-again Christian, i am thankful to the Lord Jesus Christ for all He has orchestrated in my life. I wouldn't be where i am today without my Creator, my fortress and my rock. He has led me through my adversities and brought me out at the other end with my feet firmly grounded. To HIM alone I give the glory.


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