Three years after breaking his back and defying death, Matt Hawksley will revisit the scene of his accident – to compete in a triathlon.
Told he would never walk again, Matt, from Huntingdon, will be back in Ireland in June to take part in the Mullaghmore Triathlon. It involves a 20km bike ride, a 5km run – he intends to walk this part – and a 750m swim in the same waters where he almost drowned.
In 2011, he dived 15ft from a pier in County Sligo into water only 3ft deep. As well as shattering a vertebra, he suffered a cardiac arrest and began to drown before he was rescued.
But, rather than let the accident deter him, the 26-year-old said he hoped that by returning he would get flashbacks and memories so he could remember properly what went on that day.
He told The Hunts Post: “I did the London triathlon because a friend of mine was doing it, and the date was the anniversary of when I woke up from my coma.
“I would like to show others who have been in similar situations what can be done, and to inspire people to push their own boundaries as they can push them more than anyone else can.”
He will be raising money for TrustPA – a charity which funds research and treatment into spinal injuries.
Despite the considerable setbacks – he contracted pneumonia and MRSA in hospital and was diagnosed with testicular cancer – last summer, he raised £2,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support when he took part in the London Triathlon.
He completed a 400m swim, a 10km bike ride, and 2.5km run in two hours and 38 minutes, made all the more remarkable by the fact that he had taken his first steps in a year and a half just seven months earlier.
Although still unable to run, he believes he is capable of it. “It’s only a matter of time,” he said, ahead of a summer that will see him take part in his second London Triathlon in August, the Spartan Race in September and the Tough Mudder in October.
For two years Matt, who has been given the all-clear from cancer, had daily physiotherapy, helping him to be able to sit up in a wheelchair after three months. When he began to walk again, Matt moved into a care home for six months, using sessions of physiotherapy and time in the gym to build up strength.
While Matt admits he is yet to start training, he said he would do the triathlons “if it killed him” and added, with his track record, it would take a lot more than a triathlon to do that!
INFORMATION: To sponsor him visit http://virginmoneygiving.com/charities/TrustPA.