Military precision helps Micky Yule to Paralympic powerlifting bronze
Once a soldier, always a solider. In Tokyo, powerlifter Micky Yule lived the motto of the badge he once wore with pride, ‘Where Right And Glory Lead’.
Glory comes in many ways at these Paralympic Games. For Yule it took the physical form of a powerlifting bronze but, in truth, it meant much more than that.
His life changed forever when an improvised explosive device detonated near him in Helmand province on July 1, 2010, one leg immediately amputated by the blast.
But the former Royal Engineers staff sergeant insists he doesn’t have the time for ‘slushy stuff’ like regret and sentimentality, preferring to always look forward. It's certainly inspiring, but you have to wonder how the relentless optimism doesn't totally exhaust him.
In the build-up to his first Games in Rio he hung a Brazilian flag in his garage gym in Southampton – an ever-present reminder of the mission he’d accepted. He replaced it with a Japanese Nisshōki within days of returning home.
“This means everything, the last five years have been a nightmare," he said. “It’s been really hard work, I’ve broke my leg twice, had Covid and really struggled to get my strength back just to qualify for the Games.
“I have got over worse; I know I can dig in. We can get through dark places and come out the other end stronger and as better people.
“I don’t doubt ever myself in any situation, when things are at their lowest, I know I will perform and I felt I did that.”
Yule, who joined the army aged 17 straight from school doesn’t do sentimentality, neither does he do vanilla quotes during interviews.
“I’ve learned you just have to keep going, you can't beat yourself up when you are down,” he said. “Everyone gets low, everyone feels it. If things were easy then everybody would do them. Be there, be a driving force for people to do well. Don’t drag anybody down, just be nice.
"Nothing comes easy, it is a rollercoaster. You have got to get through it and take the highs and lows when they come. If you can stay in the middle and keep training hard, stay accountable and make sure you can look in the mirror each morning and say you are doing your best, you will get there. Whatever the situation.”
Like close friend and fellow Afghanistan veteran Jaco van Glass, who claimed a second gold in the cycling, he credits military training with the resilience needed for sporting success.
And it’s also made him a canny tactician. Along with his coaches, Yule channelled battle smart strategies to outflank and outwit rivals with his weight selections, a high-stakes game that paid dividends lifting 182kg – more than twice his bodyweight.
“It is high-risk poker. The coaches study the other lifters. I put my earphones on and got myself into my little place because the pressure saps your energy. I just had to hit that 182kg and see where the cards fell and they fell in my favour."
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