Third Time Lucky: Micky Yule

July 23, 2022

Micky Yule has overcome incredible adversity to compete in his third Commonwealth Games. But even he admits there is one opponent he cannot overcome. 

On July 1, 2010, Yule – a staff sergeant with the Royal Engineers – stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device) in the Helmand Province while on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. The detonation changed his life forever. 

The 31-year-old lost both his legs, had his arms broken and his pelvis smashed. He was in a coma for ten days, spent eight weeks in hospital and the next two-and-a-half years in rehab. To not only recover from that but to go on and compete at the elite level in powerlifting is a remarkable achievement by the man from Wallyford. 
Bad luck prevented him from being among the medals at his first two Games but he’s hoping that it will be third time lucky in Birmingham – after revealing that this will be his final appearance at the event. 

“This will be my third and last Games,” he said. “I’ll be 44 in December and you get to an age where you can barely move out of bed. My elbows are gone, my pecs and shoulders are continually injured but you keep going. 

“I’ve had a really bad run with the Commonwealth Games in terms of injuries. I participated in Glasgow in 2014 with a torn pectoral muscle and four years ago in Australia I was still recovering from a fractured femur so we’ll see what happens this time. 

“I’d gone into both confident and in good form so I feel as though I’m cursed when it comes to the Commonwealth Games because I ended up finishing fourth in my two previous attempts, having to sit back and watch others take my medals with their final lifts of the competition. 

“Even so, I’m optimistic that, if I can steer clear of injuries this year then I’ll be knocking on the door. I’m strong as an ox so, as long as I don’t pick up any little niggles between now and then, I should have a chance. 

“Back in April I took part in a mini-tournament at Loughborough University and I matched my personal best – which I’d set five years earlier – by lifting 195lbs. That gave me plenty of encouragement and, if I can repeat that or even better it in Birmingham, I should be among the medals. 

“You need a bit of luck to succeed and I’m just keeping my fingers crossed.” 
Cursed or not, Micky is looking forward to competing in the Midlands. 

“It should be amazing,” he said. “The Gold Coast in 2014 was too far away to expect people from the UK to travel to but my experience of Glasgow before that was fantastic, with the venues jam-packed with friends and family. 

“I live just outside of Southampton now so it’ll be as easy for my old mates and relatives from Scotland to get there as it will be for me. The atmosphere will be incredible, I know that much.” 
Yet he confesses that, through no fault of its residents, Birmingham is far from his favourite place. 

“It takes a lot to get me to go back there,” he explained. “When I was injured, the hospital I was flown back to was in the city so I’ve always associated Birmingham with quite bad memories. I could do with changing that around come August. 

“I’ve only ever gone there before to have work done so at least on this occasion I know I can visit without someone wanting to cut me open.” 
Yule’s reluctance to return is perfectly understandable, given the amount of medical attention he received following his return from Afghanistan. 

“I’ve had 75 operations, with most of them coming right at the start,” he said. “It got to the point where I had to say: ‘No more.’ Because the surgeons admitted that we’d reached the stage where going under the knife would make things a little bit better but going through the surgery was really affecting me. 

“Consequently, I haven’t had an operation for about four years now, touch wood. There’s always something which can be done to help a little but you never get the chance to move on because you go into hospital then start your recovery and you’re back to where you started, really. I would only have surgery know if it was an emergency.” 
Yule represented the Army in powerlifting tournaments during his 15 years of service, but he admits that he wouldn’t be involved at his current rarefied level as an able-bodied man. 

“It was only after powerlifting was introduced at the London Olympics that I thought there might be a way forward for me,” he said. “I’d always been strong so I began finding out how I could become involved and what guidance I could receive and, after it was included in Glasgow in 2014, I was lucky enough to be paired with my coach, Neil Crosby, who still works with me now. 

“But I never considered competing when I was in the Army: I only ever did it then to keep fit. I’d no aspirations to do anything else.” 
The fact he has been able to not only compete but succeed in his chosen field has also helped Micky to recover from his traumatic past. 

“When I train or compete it takes my mind off everything else,” he said. “It was my little bit of freedom and, when I was concentrating on lifting, I wasn’t thinking about Afghanistan or my injuries or anything else. It also helped because it made me push myself again. 

“More than anything, I had targets and deadlines and a routine once again and I needed that routine. It also helped me get off painkillers because when you’re medicating through your injuries you can’t train. Now I’m back to trying to be the guy I was before.” 
Yule also paid tribute to Prince Harry for doing more than most to help people like him by founding the Invictus Games in 2014. 

“He’s had a lot of bad press recently but he created those games at a time when no-one was doing anything for severely injured, combat-injured former soldiers,” he claimed. 

“As an ex-serviceman himself, he was in the public eye and he encouraged us all by doing that. He’s created a life-changing event and I’m not just saying that because I won a gold medal in 2016.” 

Another in Birmingham would be more than welcome. 

Article by Ewing Grahame

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