British para-triathlon starlet once again embraces his love of sport
Michael Taylor is at his happiest when he is active and pushing himself to achieve. Originally from Barnstaple Devon, keen sportsman and University graduate, Michael suffered a dramatic setback at just 19 years old when an infection in his foot and ankle, led to a below the knee amputation.
In August 2015, student Michael Taylor began experiencing pain in his ankle, much like the sensation of when you endure a sprain. Although unlike any sprain, this pain refused to go and over the period of 9 months, got progressively worse. Unfortunately, another infection masked the diagnosis meaning the actual condition was detected too late and by the time it was, the infection had spread to the bones in Michael’s foot. “I was on antibiotics for 3 months at a time”, says Michael. “The infection went but as soon as I stopped taking the medicine, it would come back”.
During the following months, while off his feet waiting for further surgery, Michael studied and researched options available to him and despite the recommendations of having the bones removed in his foot and his ankle fused; he came to the courageous decision that to prevent the infection travelling higher up his leg, amputation below the knee was the best possible option for him. “I’d had 10 months to get used to the idea and that any other operations would be a temporary measure”, said Michael. “I spoke to a few people and they told me they were so much better once they’d cut it off, and this meant I’d be pain free and could get on with my life”. When coming to terms with what had happened to him, Michael had to stay positive as the thought of not being able to do sport again was hard to accept. Fortunately, he had a good network of people around him in the shape of his family and friends. During his rehabilitation process his mums physio was very helpful and he regularly went swimming to get his body back in shape and to keep his mind positive. Shortly after getting his first prosthesis, Michael went off to university which for him “was a change of scenery and a fresh start”.
When coming to terms with what had happened to him, Michael had to stay positive as the thought of not being able to do sport again was hard to accept. Fortunately, he had a good network of people around him in the shape of his family and friends. During his rehabilitation process his mums physiotherapy skills were very helpful and he regularly went swimming to socialise get his body back in shape and to keep his mind positive. Shortly after getting his first prosthesis, just four months after his amputation, Michael went off to university, which for him “was a change of scenery and a fresh start”.
Throughout his early recovery, he started looking for things to get involved in. Having previously been into swimming, playing rugby and other team sports, Michael was keen to find something to get his teeth in to. It was during this time that the Rio Paralympics was on and he discovered triathlon. “I was looking for something else to do as I couldn’t really play rugby anymore”, said Michael. “I signed up for a triathlon taster day in February 2017 and could do the swim and cycle ok but I couldn’t run properly as I didn’t have a running blade but even so, I really enjoyed it”.
Knowing this was going to get him back to fitness and competition, Michael decided he needed to get a running blade.“I researched Dorset Orthopaedic and heard good things, so I went to see them in April 2017 and got my blade the following month” Michael continues. “I went to the Ringwood branch while I studied Physiotherapy at Cardiff University. Now I’m in Loughborough I go to the Midlands clinic. It’s useful having them dotted around the country so I can go to my nearest branch. But now I am in Loughborough and have started going to the Midlands clinic. It has been brilliant having multiple clinics around the country so I can go to my nearest branch where I am always greeted with a warm welcome, an encouraging smile as well as coffee and biscuits”.
Having achieved his Physiotherapy Degree, Michael decided before starting work to take some time to seriously focus on Para-triathlon, with the goal of reaching the Paralympic games. In November 2019, he was moved onto the British Para-Triathlon performance squad. So far he has competed in a number of races including the European Championships and the Tasmanian World Series. “I came 4th in that race but was so close to the podium” said Michael. “I’m sure I can do better in time; I’m still quite new and it’s all about learning”.
Matt Hughes, Managing Director said, “I first met Michael a few years back in our Ringwood clinic and he has since gone on to do incredible things with his prosthesis. This year I was thrilled to hear that he had been accepted on to the British Para-Tri team and earlier this year took part in his first ever World Championship race over in Tasmania. I wish him all the success for the future and look forward to watching his progress”.
Michael is very ambitious and has his sights set on a bright future. He dreams of going to the Paralympics and standing side by side with the world’s best!
“The best advice I can give anyone going through a similar ordeal”, says Michael, “Is to surround yourself with positive people and give yourself goals to strive towards. Keep active and do something you love…swimming feels like freedom to me”.