Beating the pain barrier
BRAD Plummer is determined to keep on running despite undergoing more than 20 operations to repair his broken body. Brad, Stevenage born and bred and living in Whitesmead Road in the Old Town, thought his athletics career was over when he was struck by a
BRAD Plummer is determined to keep on running despite undergoing more than 20 operations to repair his broken body.
Brad, Stevenage born and bred and living in Whitesmead Road in the Old Town, thought his athletics career was over when he was struck by a lorry in 1998.
A quality long-distance runner with Stevenage and North Herts AC, Brad had completed the London Marathon two years earlier in under three hours, but with his left knee shattered and upper body and jaw smashed he assumed his running career was over.
The knee was repaired with screws - something that has left him with an occasional embarrassing problem when he sets the alarm bells ringing going through metal detectors at airports - and his jaw was rebuilt along with his torso. However. although the mental desire to run again was there, he could no longer push his body to the heights he had achieved before.
But Brad 43, married to Russian athlete Svetlana and with a son Serge, pulled on his running shoes again and started running for fun. The option to turn his back on his athletic life never entered his head and not only is he now competing again in disabled events he dedicates much of his free time to helping coach young athletes.
Many nights a week he can be found at the Gosling Sports Park in Welwyn Garden City passing on his experience to the next generation of athletes who are mostly members of Garden City Runners, his own club.
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"I just love running even though I have a slight disability after my accident," said Brad, who is a milkman in Hatfield.
"The accident is still a vivid memory. I was working in Hatfield when I was struck by another vehicle and thrown 35ft through the air. The impact was so great I shattered my left knee and my jaw and my upper body were badly injured.
"I then went through a whole series of operations to repair my shattered knee and to be honest I thought I would never walk properly again let alone run.
"But I have always had a never-say-die attitude in life and never gave up. In the back of my mind I always had the ambition to run again."
It was while he was coaching young athletes he took the first tender and sometimes painful steps back to his desire to compete again on the track.
It was not easy but he steadfastly refused to give up. He began training and pushing his body to restore his fitness and learned how to cope with his disability.
Recently, Brad competed at an event for the first time since his accident and beat the pain barrier to return home with three gold medals after running in the 400m, 800m and 5,000m in the same afternoon. Not bad for an athlete who thought he would never run again.
"It took a lot of determination just to go there and compete," added Brad.
"You always worry after being away from the track for so long but I kept pushing myself because I knew I could do it.
"At the end of the day I was suffering a bit and the joints were a bit stiff but the three medals were a reward for pushing myself through the pain barrier."
Brad is determined to continue competing as long as his body can stand the stress.
"I have proved I can still do it on the track with my disability so I will go on for a while longer," said Brad whose next target is a place in the Great Britain side at the World Disabled Championships in Holland in September.