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Anchors away for RAF veteran in Rio Paralympics

It's anchors away for Sunderland resident and RAF veteran John Robertson, who will be sailing in this year's Paralympics in Rio. This will be the fourth Paralympics for John and teammates Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas.

John Robertson

John joined the Royal Air Force in 1989 and served as a weapons mechanic on Harrier jump jets. He was paralysed in a motorbike accident in 1994.

John said: "It takes you a while for your mind to adapt and actually accept that you're paralysed, and that you’re disabled for the rest of your life. I didn't plan on being a Paralympic athlete and sailor and going to four Olympic games.  I really loved the RAF to bits."

John grew up sailing with his family, but it was only after his injury and initial recovery that sailing became a true passion and key part of his rehabilitation.  John and his team have won several world championships, but a Paralympic medal has eluded them in the past three games.

John continued: "I think that in our mind, when we’re racing in Rio in September, is that we’re going to win that gold medal."

The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund has been proud to support John over the years and to help him live independently in a specially adapted home in Sunderland.

John concluded: "I wouldn't be able to be where I am today without the help of the RAF Benevolent Fund. The support has always been there. Without them, I just wouldn't be able to go to the games and have that confidence that I'm able to come back and live in my house in Sunderland and get on with the job at hand."

When not sailing competitively, John supports RYA Sailability, which teaches sailing to young people and adults with disabilities, speaks at schools about his life and sailing, and helps to coach members at his local yacht club.

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