Uckfield triathlete Jamie Bedwell has been counting his blessings since being seriously injured when hit by a car while on a training run two months ago.
Jamie ended up in hospital with two broken vertebrae, T4 and T5, a torn kidney, secondary burns to his left calf, lost toe nails on his left foot, damaged ligaments, cuts and bruises.
But he knows he was lucky to survive the crash and to have escaped being paralysed.
He told the Uckfield News website: “I was lucky the way the car hit me, the size of the car (it was a 4×4 so I didn’t go over the top of it and I wasn’t thrown forward); I was lucky I had a good landing in a bush; I was lucky my fractured vertebrae were high up in my spine, I was lucky the tear in my kidney was small enough not to need surgery, and I was lucky the second degree burns on my left healed miraculously within ten days.”
Jamie remembers gingerly wriggling his fingers and toes as he lay in a bush after the collision on October 10. He added: “I knew I had been hit by a car and that it was bad but one of the first thoughts to go through my mind was ‘I’ll be all right. I’ll be able to compete in the Paralympics’.”
The 18-year-old’s positivity is amazing. He is thrilled to have recovered the way he has, but as he talks about the thoughts running through his mind as he lay in that bush, it seems he was totally undaunted about the possibility of a major change to his future prospects.
“I just knew everything would be all right and I could adapt to whatever happened next.”
And what happened, he says, is that everything has gone much better than he could have hoped. A major boost received in the last few days is the news that he has been shortlisted for a major award by the world’s biggest triathlon magazine, 220. He is also planning for a return to full training, and how he will help others if he achieves his ambitions.
Jamie said: “The accident wasn’t good of course but I could have been killed, I could have been paralysed. Things could have been so much worse.”
He has been having an enforced rest since the accident, his first break in three years, and he has been making the most of time gained to concentrate on his university course in podiatry.
He didn’t leave it long before he started exercising again. After only four weeks he was back in the swimming pool, trying out his front crawl and back stroke but gently, tumble turns were out. Then about a month ago he began using a cross trainer again.
He has not been allowed to run or to get on his bike, to avoid compounding the injury to his kidney, but he hopes he will be able to get back into the saddle and onto the road after a scan in the middle of January.
Then it will be full speed ahead to be fit by March when he has to perform well in national trials to be ranked in the top 15 to 20 triathletes to allow him to compete in events during the year.
After that the competitions start, the British Super Series, the British Championships, the European Championship Qualifiers, the World Championship Qualifiers.
Jamie hasn’t changed his goal since he was injured. He still wants to represent his country in European Cup events around Europe, and to do that must be among the top five triathletes in Great Britain.
He is convinced he will make it but says: “If I don’t, I won’t be disappointed. Everything is in place and I will continue working hard ready to try again next year, or the year after that. I will make it eventually.”
In the meantime Jamie is dreaming about what he will do to help others after stepping onto the Olympic podium – he is convinced he will stand there one day.
He has launched a Find Your Purpose Project and is looking out for sports teams and individuals and small charities that might benefit from his support.
One of the charities already close to his heart is One Water, a bottled water brand which uses profits to fund sustainable water projects for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Projects range from water and sanitation programmes to pump repair, community training and school feeding programmes.
The one thing Jamie is most grateful for since his accident is the support he has received from family and friends. “They have been fantastic, particularly my mum, who had been decorating and was out walking the dogs when she got a phone call telling her I had been hurt in an accident and she should come right away. She remained calm throughout.”
Jamie’e mum Karen, father Ian, and younger brother Henri live on the Harlands Farm Estate, Uckfield. His older brother Tom lives in Wales, and Jamie now splits his time between Uckfield and Eastbourne, where he lives during the week to make it easier to attend his university course.
• You can help Jamie win the Youth Male Triathlete of the Year award by voting for him on the 220 Triathlon website. All you have to do to be able to vote is register a profile – this does not subscribe you to any emails, just enables you to vote. Look for Jamie’s name in the category for Youth Male Triathlete of the Year.
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