From Afghanistan To Dolomite Superbike

A few months ago, we started our campaign Have You Got What It Takes to find a deserving MTB rider to partner with TORQ, coach and former #TORQFuelled International Pro Sally Bigham and performance-planning and analytical software company Today’s Plan, to prepare a rider who has overcome significant adversity to compete in the epic Dolomiti Superbike MTB Race.

We were humbled by the number of people who contacted us and it was a hugely difficult task in deciding who would be allocated the fully-funded spot. After much consideration, we would like to introduce you to James Wilkinson.

James Wilkinson is a former corporal with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. James joined the Army in early 2007 and by the end of 2007 he was deployed on his first tour of Afghanistan. After completing 2 previous tours, March 2011 would be his last trip to the Helmand Province.

James arrived in Afghanistan and was out on the ground with his search dog Tam, whose role was to support human troops by isolating concealed arms and explosives. Three months into the tour, working out of the checkpoint Zarawar, on the 16th June James was involved in a IED (improvised explosive device) strike and left with life threatening injuries which included a severed femoral artery, main vein and nerve damage to the left groin, fragments to the abdomen and also unrepairable damage to the left hip which needed to be replaced.

James was treated by emergency medics at the military hospital in Camp Bastion and flown back to queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham while in an induced coma. Many surgeries later and over a month in hospital James was allowed home to recover. Whilst recovering from his physical injuries, the hard work began when he left hospital working on his psychological rehabilitation.

James was medically discharged from the Army in September 2014 while rehabilitating at Headly Court. He was diagnosed with complex PTSD and was treated for this during his admissions with help from the psychiatrists.

After discharge with his wife Rebecca, he set up the company Operation K9, a canine hydrotherapy and rehabilitation centre.

James is lucky to live close to the beautiful Dalby Forest which is where he found a passion for mountain biking. He bought himself a Trek Remedy mountain bike and started going out on his own exploring the forest and found it not only benefited him physically, but found it made significant improvements to his mental health and wellbeing. James fell in love with the sport which is now shared with his 3 boys who have also become bike-mad so it is an activity he can enjoy with his family.

Now almost 11 years into his injury journey, James has completed races including Ard Rock, Ard Moors, Tweed Love, and the final round of the Scottish enduro series, which he never thought he would ever be fit enough to do so it’s fair to say he’s not shy of a challenge!

James recently had a second hip replacement and having the time off his bike has made him realise just how important the sport is to his physical and mental health development.

Which brings James to today, signing up to what he believes to be one of the biggest physical challenges of his life to date, taking on the Dolomite Superbike MTB Race with support from TORQ, Sally Bigham and Today’s Plan.

We are absolutely delighted to be able to support James with his rehabilitation and we hope that the experience of competing at the Dolomite Superbike will showcase what is truly possible and help take James the next rung up the ladder of physical and psychological recovery. James has worked very closely with the charity Help for Hero’s and should you wish to donate to support the rehabilitation of other incredible servicemen and women you can do so by clicking HERE.

Please keep visiting our news pages and stay in touch via our social media channels and we will keep you updated on James’ progress.