Making the decision to have part of your leg amputated before reaching the age of 21 is for most people something too unbearable to think of.
Thankfully for most, that call will never have to be made, but there are some who will have to live out that nightmare scenario.
One such person is 22-year- old Owen Pick who, back in August, 2011, had his lower right leg removed 18 months after having it almost blown off while serving Queen and Country in Afghanistan.
“We were on a patrol and we were given orders to storm this compound. I was the fourth man in and I stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED),” said Owen, recalling the night.
“From this point onwards I don’t remember too much, but apparently the blast blew me about 10 feet in the air and 15 feet back from the explosion point. At the time I knew I had my leg still attached but I was screaming in pain.”
Although his leg was initially saved by a team of doctors back home in England, it was in the aftermath that the Red Lodge resident encountered problems.
“After 18 months of rehab I was starting to get my right leg fit again and I was walking again but then things started to deteriorate,” said Owen.
“I went to see a specialist and he said I had several choices. One included an operation or to have the leg cut off at the knee.
“I spoke to as many people as I could and I took as much advice as possible, but my gut instinct told me to have it off and on the August 11, 2011, I did just that.”
Not only was the former Riverside Middle School’s decision to remove his leg brave, but it was one that was to transforming his life for the better, with it turning him towards trying his hand at the extreme water sport of wakeboarding.
“The whole wakeboarding thing came about on a trip to Heron Lake down near Heathrow. I asked the guy who was doing it had he ever taught anyone with one leg, and while he said he had taught people sitting down he had never taught anyone doing it standing up so I thought, let’s go for it.”
Since his initial attempt at the sport in 2012, Owen has grown from strength-to-strength on the water, so much so that he finished second in this year’s Liquid Winter Wake Park Series.
“I entered my first competition at the end of 2012 around six months after taking the sport up and the first people knew about my leg was when I took my trousers off to compete,” said Owen.
“Although I didn’t do amazing well I didn’t come last, and I said to myself that by the end of the year I want to get a podium finish, which I achieved when I got a first and a second place in some minor competitions.”
During that same time span Owen has also shown he is more than at home on the slopes after getting to grips at adaptive snowboarding over in America and Canada.
Much like his wake boarding exploits, Owen has mastered the art successfully highlighted by his performance at this year’s French Nationals in the lower limb category, under the guidance of Paralympic skier Talan Skeels-Piggins.
“The aim was to just go there and get three clear runs,” said Owen.
“However after my first run I was in second, and I stayed there for both my second and third runs.
“I thought I never had chance out there but I ended up coming away with a silver medal which was above what I expected.”
Talk of appearing at the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games may seem premature with them still over three years away, but despite having more immediate goals, Owen, who is also seeking sponsorship, now has them on the radar.
“The aim for the 2014/15 season is to build up my ranking points by competing in Europe, before hopefully heading out to America to train,” said Pick.
“The ultimate dream though is to make it the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games.”
To sponsor Owen contact him on 07808205084.