Lisburn gymnast Luke Carson, who was told by surgeons his career may be over after shattering his tibia last September, has beaten the odds and was this week selected to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games.
At one point it was unknown if Luke would be able to ever walk without a limp or even run again.
But with determination the local man, who trains alongside the likes of British Olympic medal winner Louis Smith at Huntingdon Gymnastics Club, England, has triumphed over adversity and he says he is stronger than ever.
“I’m absolutely over the moon, I can’t believe it,” said Luke. “Last year I was even told I might not run properly again on a hard surface and now I’ve just been selected for one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
“It was always in the back of my mind, the Commonwealth Games were my ultimate goal. Everyday I’m in pain and tired because I don’t sleep well with the pain, but everyday I kept in mind, ‘imagine the feeling of walking out onto the competition arena’.
“Some of the doctors I saw were very negative. My tibia was snapped in half and fragments of bone were going here and there, there was the possibility I’d walk with a limp and now I’m at the top of my game. It’s unbelievable.”
Luke has a rod, screws and metal plates in his leg and he says he will never be pain free but says it is “a sacrifice he is prepared to make.
“The surgeon I saw last October at the Princess Grace Hospital in London, Professor Fares Haddad, is one of the top Orthopaedic Surgeons in the world. He said that nothing is impossible and that if the pain permitted I could come back. He is keen to do a case study out of me.”
Luke added: “I am very resilient, I love to prove people wrong. It fuels me even more and I think, ‘I’ll tell you when I’m done.’
“I’ve always seemed on the brink of a career changing performance and something has pulled me back, one injury or another, but this time I will be in control of my fate.”
“It’s a dream come true. I don’t think there has been a day in the past year I haven’t thought about the Commonwealth Games. I printed out photos of the Commonwealth Games logo and put them all around my house, on the fridge, in my room, so when the motivation was sucked out by pain, and I wondered why I was doing this, because I get no funding, no help from a government body, I’m doing it off my own back, and going through this pain, I would see the logo and it would motivate me. Of course my teammates also helped. Louis Smith has been fantastic and stepped up so much as a best friend. He has helped me in and out of the gym.”
Luke and Louis will compete in the same event in Glasgow, however, Luke says the teammates will support each other.
“I’m under no illusion, Louis and Dan (Daniel Keatings) are absolutely exceptional. They have both won European, World, Olympic titles. My main goal will be making it to a final. Gymnastics is extremely hard and if you make it to a final and get into that top 8 then anything can happen, one mistake and it’s anyone’s game. We always want the same thing but we are not working against each other, we are all very supportive.
“I’d like to thank my sponsors for all of their help, Reflex Nutrition, Machine Fitness and Paul Lancaster Ltd. I get no funding from the Sports Council and I live off just a few hundred pounds a month so I am always looking for sponsorship. If anyone would like to sponsor me they can contact me through me Twitter at https://twitter.com/LukeCarson23.”